No. 14 Gannon Extends Win Streak vs. Rival Mercyhurst

ERIE, Pa. First-year Gannon head coach Lindsey Lowman got her first in-game Gannon-Mercyhurst rivalry experience Saturday afternoon. And it was just like every other contest in the rivalry -- extremely close. In a match that neither team led by more than three goals, the Lady Knights snapped an 8-8 tie with back-to-back goals 6:14 into the second half and then held off a late Laker charge to earn a 14-13 victory at Tullio Field.

Gannon initially led 2-1 after consecutive goals from Rachel DerCola (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) and Jess Fugate (Wooster, Ohio/Wooster) during the opening four minutes. However, that would turn out to be the Lady Knights' only lead of the first period.

The match went back and forth the rest of the half as the teams were tied at one, two, four and five. Mercyhurst snapped a 5-5 tie with consecutive free-position goals late in the half. Stevie Lombardoni's (Mexico, N.Y./Mexico) score with 2:43 left in the half got the Lady Knights within 7-6 at the intermission.

Gannon produced the contest's biggest run of the afternoon with four consecutive goals early during the second half. Trailing 8-6 after Mercyhurst opened the final stanza with a goal, the Lady Knights netted four straight during the span of five minutes and 50 seconds.

Sarah Grzybinski (New Market, Md./Linganore) scored two of the four goals. Her second on a free-position shot gave Gannon a 9-8 advantage with 23:46 left, representing the squad's first lead since the opening minutes of the first half. Lombardoni's tally capped the run, giving Gannon a 10-8 advantage at the 22:25 mark.

Mercyhurst battled back, creating the fifth tie of the match at 11 by scoring three of the next four goals. Gannon immediately responded with the game-winning run. Caitlyn Fisher (Cypress, Texas/Cy-Fair) put the Lady Knights in front for good, scoring off an assist from Christine Valentine (Friendship, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) with 11:59 remaining.

Kimberly Neagle (Auburn, N.Y./Auburn) and Valentine bumped the lead to 14-11 with goals at the 9:52 and 6:58 marks. It seemed to be enough until Mercyhurst scored twice during the final two minutes. Kayla Minner's score with 1:13 showing on the clock brought the Lakers within 14-13. However, Lombardoni won the ensuing draw control and Gannon ran out the final 1:13 without losing possession of the ball.

Lombardoni and Neagle led a balanced scoring attack with three goals each. Neagle also added an assist. DerCola had a team-high four assists to go along with two goals for a team-high six points. Fugate and Grzybinski chipped in two goals each. Valentine recorded a goal and two assists while Fisher completed the scoring with one goal and one assist.

Margaret Maslyn (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) had one of her best performances of the season, turning away 14 shots between the pipes. The last line of defense included eight saves during the first half. She also stopped six of 11 free-position shots.

Gannon, ranked fifth in the latest NCAA Division II South regional rankings and 14th in the latest Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) national rankings, concluded the regular season with a 12-5 overall record and a 9-2 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) mark. Mercyhurst dropped to 11-6 overall and 8-3 in the conference with its fourth consecutive setback against the Lady Knights.

Saturday's victory clinched the PSAC's third seed for Gannon. The Lady Knights will host sixth-seeded Bloomsburg during the PSAC Quarterfinals Tuesday, May 1 at Gannon University Field. Game time is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. The winner will face West Chester Friday, May 4 in the PSAC semifinals hosted by Lock Haven.


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