Monmouth Hands Central Connecticut First NEC Loss

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth used a total team effort to hand Central Connecticut its first conference loss of the season, 12-7, on Kessler Field Thursday afternoon.

The Hawks (4-9, 3-2 NEC), which never trailed, opened up an 8-1 lead in the first half. The Blue Devils (5-5, 3-1 NEC), who are off to their best start in program history, scored six second-half goals but it wasn't enough to keep pace with the Monmouth offense.

"To me it was a lot about the stats today," said MU head Coach Denise Wescott. We started getting the draw, we got some good looks early. Our defense just shut them down, our assistant coaches' scouting report was good and that really helped us shut the door. Our offense pressure and ran our ride as well as we have all year. We eased up a little in the second, we felt a little too confident. We gave up the draws and they capitalized."

Offensively, the Hawks were led by sophomore Kaleigh Gibbons (Candia, N.H./Central/RMU), who had a career-high seven points on five goals and two assists. The MU defense was impressive, forcing CCSU into 14 turnovers. Sabrina Heskins (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) had three ground balls and two caused turnovers while freshman Katie Donohoe (Peterborough, Ontario/Holy Cross Secondary School) backstopped the Hawks with six saves, six ground balls and four caused turnovers.

The Hawks jumped all over the Blue Devils with Gibbons tallying back to back goals in the first 2:38 of the game. Senior Sam Lillo (Short Hills, N.J./Milburn) tallied two straight of her own, giving the Hawks a 4-0 lead with 14:10 to play. Lynn White (Deer Park, N.Y./Deer Park) added a goal, with Gibbons on the assist, before the New Hampshire native scored her third of the first half on a free position goal.

Senior Olivia Salata (Broomall, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) pushed the lead to 7-0 with 12:22 to play before CCSU's Betsy Vendel got her squad on the board with 10:52 remaining. Monmouth's Sam Savona (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Liberty [FDU]) put MU up 8-1, scoring with 34 seconds left in the half.

The Blue Devils cut the lead to 8-3 in the opening minutes of the second frame, prompting a Monmouth timeout. The Hawks rallied and Gibbons scored her fourth marker of the game to break up the CCSU scoring run.

The Blue Devils got back to back goals over an eight-minute stretch to put the score at 9-4 but MU answered with consecutive goals from Salata and Gibbons. Central tallied a goal with 4:08 remaining before Lillo tallied her third goal to push the score to 12-6. CCSU's Ashley Perkoski scored with four ticks remaining and the Hawks walked off with a five-goal victory.

The Hawk defense held Vendel, the league's sixth ranked point scorer, to one goal on the afternoon. MU outshot the Blue Devils 34-20, including a 22-6 margin in the first half, while owning a 29-16 advantage in ground balls.

Gibbons' set a career-high with her five goals and seven points, while going three for three on free position attempts. Lillo had a trio of goals but also had five crucial draw controls in the contest.

Blue Devil goalie Erin Delancy, who owns the top goals against average in the NEC, had 12 saves for CCSU. Perkoski led her squad with three points while Vendel had six draw controls but just the one goal.

Monmouth returns home on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. for a home tilt with Bryant University.


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