Gannon Holds off Mercyhurst in PSAC Match

ERIE, Pa. Gannon grabbed momentum by erasing a 5-2 deficit with three goals in the final 94 seconds of the first half and never looked back during an 11-8 victory against rival Mercyhurst Wednesday afternoon at Gannon University Field.

The victory was Gannon's fourth consecutive against the Lakers and extended its lead in the all-time series to 15-5. The decision also kept the Lady Knights' hopes of a postseason home match alive. Gannon can host a PSAC quarterfinal home match with a victory at Indiana (Pa.) combined with a Mercyhurst loss at Lock Haven and a Bloomsburg loss against Millersville. All three matches are scheduled for Saturday, April 27. Any other combination will give the Lady Knights the fifth or sixth seed, forcing the squad on the road for the conference quarterfinals.

Gannon also matched a couple milestones with Wednesday's victory. The Lady Knights improved to 10-6 overall and 6-4 in the PSAC. The program has now reached double digits in victories nine consecutive seasons while clinching another winning season. Gannon has produced a winning season every year during the program's 18-year history.

The final 94 seconds of the first half arguably turned the tide and propelled Gannon to Wednesday's victory. The Lady Knights trailed 5-2 in miserable weather conditions that included rain, heavy wind and temperatures in the 40's. But Stevie Lombardoni (Mexico, N.Y./Mexico) ignited a spark with 1:34 left in the half, scoring off a pass from Caitlyn Fisher (Cypress, Texas/Cy-Fair). Jess Fugate (Wooster, Ohio/Wooster) followed with an unassisted goal 42 seconds later, before Christie Valentine (Friendship, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) redirected another Fisher assist into the net to tie the contest at five with six seconds left on the clock.

Gannon continued its run after the break. The Lady Knights scored five of the first six goals in the second half, including four from Fugate. The senior ripped off three consecutive scores, including back-to-back free-position goals that gave the home squad a 10-6 advantage with 9:28 to play.

Mercyhurst tried to rally with a pair of Kyla Keefe scores to claw within 10-8 at the 5:35 mark. The goals ended an 8-1 Gannon run that lasted 25 minutes and 47 seconds. After scoring 23 seconds into the affair, Natalie Bonnepart's (San Jose, Calif./Gunderson) second tally with 3:57 remaining capped the scoring. The Lady Knights won the ensuing draw control and never lost possession the rest of the way.

Fugate led all scorers on both sides with five goals, two assists, seven points and five draw controls. Valentine and Bonnepart added three and two goals, respectively. Lombardoni accounted for the other score. Fisher dished out a team-high three assists.

Margaret Maslyn (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) was superb in goal. The junior recorded nine saves, including several point-blank attempts. She had four saves during the first half, before turning away another five shots in the final 30 minutes. The statistical sheet was almost a dead heat as the two teams were separated by only one in shots, grounds balls, draw controls and saves.

Mercyhurst dropped to 12-4 overall and 7-3 in the PSAC with Wednesday's setback. Gannon concludes the regular season Saturday, April 27 at 13th-ranked Indiana (Pa.). Game time is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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ERIE, Pa.- Mercyhurst lost, 11-8, at Gannon Wednesday afternoon. Rebecca Himes recorded two goals and three assists in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) defeat at rain-soaked Gannon University Field.

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