Niagara Nips Manhattan in Tightly Contested Match

NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. Junior Maria Battista scored the eventual game-winning goal with just over two minutes remaining in a tightly contested match-up to push the Niagara Purple Eagles to their first conference win of the season with a 11-10 victory over Manhattan at Niagara Field on Saturday afternoon.

After an opening half that saw 14 combined goals, the teams locked down defensively in the final 30 minutes, only netting a total of seven goals, with neither end being able to get ahead by more than two.

With 2:13 remaining in the contest and NU up by a slim 10-9 margin, Battista dodged several Jasper defenders before whipping a low shot to the left of Manhattan goalie Christin Fiorinelli to give the Purps an 11-9 lead. Manhattan would battle back with a late tally, but it was not enough to stage a comeback as Niagara (5-10; 1-4 MAAC) snapped a four game losing streak on Senior Day.

"Today was a total team effort. We came out and executed offensively in the first half particularly well," head coach Wendy Stone said. "It's great to get our first MAAC win of the year on Senior Day. We have worked with the mentality of getting better each and every time we take the field, and we saw that in spades today. We will continue to work to make sure our next time out we are better once again."

Battista led the Purple Eagles with six points off a trio of goals and three assists, while sophomore Carrie-Jo Farrugia added four goals and a helper for five points. Danielle Maio also contributed to the NU offensive with a pair of goals and assists.

Niagara goaltender Paige Sasser posted 13 saves in the game which included eight big ones in the second frame.

The teams traded goals in the opening five minutes of play with Manhattan (4-12; 1-5 MAAC) jumping out to an early lead as Donna Jo DiNorcia grabbed her 14th goal of the season just 36 seconds into the game. Farrugia responded with her first goal of the game at 28:30 off an assist from Maio to tie it up at one apiece, and Maio added her own score at 24:47 after Kelsey Rehain scored two minutes beforehand to make it 2-2.

Maio's 19th goal of the season sparked three unanswered goals from the Purple Eagles from Farrugia, Battista and Katherine Pille to give NU a 5-2 lead with just over 18 minutes left in the opening period.

Manhattan stormed back however, going on a 5-2 run to finish the half to knot the game at seven propelled by Kelsey Rehain who pocketed a pair of goals. The teams headed into intermission with Manhattan holding an 18-10 advantage in shots.

Niagara started the scoring after the break as Battista and Maio found the back of the net to make it 9-7 with 20:33 minutes left to play. Stefanie Ranagan brought the Jaspers within one just 42 seconds later, but Farrugia scored her third of the game at 17:26 to pull ahead, 10-8.

Megan Yarusso and Ranagan each scored in the final 10 minutes of play, but Battista's 21st goal of the season ensured the Purple Eagle victory.

Manhattan edged the Purple Eagles in shots, 35-22, and draw controls, 13-10, while Niagara led in ground balls, 19-16.

Niagara wraps up the regular season on April 27 in Loudonville, N.Y. as the Purple Eagles battle the Siena Saints at 3:00 p.m.

* * * *

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. - Playing in their final Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) game of the 2013 season, Manhattan dropped an 11-10 decision at Niagara on Saturday. It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Jaspers (4-12, 1-5 MAAC), while the Purple Eagles (5-10, 1-4 MAAC) picked up their first league win.

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