Cregan, Johnston Combine for 7 as Nazareth Tops Utica

UTICA, N.Y. -- Visiting Nazareth scored five of the first seven goals in the second period to extend its 5-3 halftime lead into a 10-5 advantage with 10 minutes to play in regulation. Junior Megan Cregan and classmate Alyssa Johnston tallied four goals and three goals, respectively, to lead the Golden Flyers to the 10-7 Empire 8 victory.

After defeating the Pioneers, Nazareth improves to 4-5 overall and 2-1 in Empire 8 games. Utica drops to 5-4 overall and 1-2 in conference games with the loss.

The Golden Flyers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard on Saturday as Johnston converted a free position shot 48 seconds into the period. After the Pioneers tied the game with a free position goal by Megan Kane, the Golden Flyers answered with back-to-back unassisted goals by junior Erinn Wood and sophomore Alex McFaddin. McFaddin's goal gave Nazareth the 3-1 lead with 16:22 to play in the first period.

Following Nazareth's consecutive goals, the Pioneers scored two goals in a span of 1:09 to tie the game again. Katlyn Banker and Maria Santucci scored for Utica to tie the contest with about 13 minutes to play in the period. Following Utica's scoring run, neither team scored for over 10 minutes. Johnston's unassisted goal with 2:56 to play in the half broke the 3-3 tie. Nazareth maintained the lead throughout the remainder of the game after Johnston's goal. With under a minute remaining in the period, sophomore Amy McIntosh found Cregan, who stretched Nazareth's lead to two goals going into the break.

Similar to the first half, Nazareth started the scoring in the second period, too. Wood tallied her second goal of the game 3:24 into the period. Johnston was credited with an assist on Wood's tally. Less than two minutes later, Cregan added her second goal, which was unassisted, to stretch the Golden Flyers' lead to four goals, 7-3.

Megan Kane and Banker sandwiched two Pioneers' goals around Johnston's third goal of the game to cut Utica's deficit to three goals. Kane converted a free position opportunity to score Utica's first goal in over a span of 23 minutes. The Pioneers' scoreless drought stretched back into the middle of the first half. Johnston's unassisted goal prevented Utica from threatening Nazareth's lead.

After Banker scored to trim the Golden Flyers' lead to three goals, Nazareth responded with consecutive goals to secure the victory. Cregan scored both of the Golden Flyers goals, the first of which came following a pass from Wood. Cregan's free position goal provided Nazareth a 10-5 lead with 10:03 to play in regulation.

Samantha Gebler and Banker each scored for Utica in the final 10 minutes to cut Nazareth's final winning margin to 10-7.

The Golden Flyers finished with advantages in shots (27-17) and ground balls (23-17). Nazareth's tenacious defense forced the Pioneers into committing 23 turnovers. Senior Brittany Buza caused four turnovers while junior Leah Cronister, freshman MacKenzie Haley, and Cregan each caused three Utica turnovers. The Pioneers finished with a 10-9 edge in draw controls. Johnston collected three draw controls to lead Nazareth.

Sophomore Tara Prosak recorded six saves to earn the victory. Utica's Shelby Barbay had a game-high 15 saves to keep the Pioneers in the game.

The Golden Flyers return to Nazareth for a non-conference game against RIT on April 10th.


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