Belmont Abbey Races by Converse to Advance to Semifinals

24 hours after defeating Converse 12-11 in overtime in the regular season finale, Belmont Abbey pulled away in the second half and defeated the Valkyries 15-5 in the quarterfinal round of the Conference Carolinas tournament.

Belmont Abbey advances to Saturday's semifinal against top-seeded Limestone Saturday afternoon in Burlington, North Carolinas as it improves to 8-8, while Converse ends its season with a mark of 9-9.

In a scheduling quirk, the two teams met Monday at Alumni Field in the regular season finale, with the winner hosting the loser the following day. With the Abbey's victory on Monday, the Crusaders clinched the fourth seed and hosted the rematch 24 hours later on the same field.

Unlike yesterday's game, in which the Crusaders used a second half rally after trailing 6-4 at the half, Belmont Abbey put this one away midway through the first half. After Converse's Sydnie Hickey knotted the game at two with 17:12 to play in the half, the Crusaders scored seven unanswered goals, five coming to close the half to carry a 7-2 lead into the break. The last goal of the string, by Molly Schaefer, raised the Abbey's lead to 9-2 with just under two minutes gone.

Converse scored two of the next three goals to close the gap to 10-4, but the Abbey scored the next five straight, three by freshman Reese Gassie, who also had an assist in the flurry, on Lauren DiChiara's strike.

Jordy Taylor scored the last goal of the game with 3:40 to play to produce the final score. Belmont Abbey outscored Converse 8-3 in the final 30 minutes.

Gassie scored five goals on six shots and also had two assists. She won a draw control and scooped up two ground balls. Lindsay Connolly, Rebecca Diggs and Megan Patton each scored twice, while Schaefer, DiChiara, Katy Connery and Gina Colella all netted one. Connolly handed out three assists, while Gassie and Ariel Walker had a pair.

Defensively, Colella led all players with four ground balls, while Diggs caused three turnovers. Schaefer also had one. Danielle Ruffalo stopped seven shots.


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