Monmouth Defeats Bryant to Claim 2nd Straight NEC Crown

Bryant (10-8), picked seventh by the conference coaches in the league's preseason poll prior to the season, enjoyed a tremendous season in the team's first year eligible for postseason play. An upset victory over second-seeded Central Connecticut in Friday's semifinal game, sent the Bulldogs to the conference championship game and NCAA Division I tournament berth on the line.

In the title game, with the Bulldogs facing a Monmouth team that came into the game winners of 10 in-a-row, the Bulldogs gave the top-seeded Hawks all they could handle but just couldn't get past a determined team looking to defend its title on its home field.

The Bulldogs battled back from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game early in the second half and later, after the Hawks built a two-goal cushion, the Bulldogs would continue to battle right up until the final seconds. Kimberley Sniffen (Redding, Conn.), who was named to the NEC All-Tournament team, scored her third goal of the game, all coming in the second half, with 4:25 left on the clock, but Monmouth (12-6) was able to run out the clock to preserve it's second-straight conference title, and sixth championship overall.

The Bulldogs had several great opportunities late in the game, but couldn't capitalize on several Monmouth turnovers. Hawk goalie Katie Donohoe (10 saves) also came up big with several clutch saves with perhaps the biggest coming on a free position attempt by Bryant's Lisa Vendel (Sandy Hook, Conn.) to help preserve an 8-6 lead by the Hawks at the time.

In the opening half, the Bulldogs fell behind 5-2, but finally started to general great scoring opportunities and cashing in. Freshman standout Lauren Descalzo (Hauppauge, NY) scored on a great cut in front of the Monmouth goal for her second of the game with 3:09 to go in the half.

Then, a minute later, Vendel scooped up a ground ball deep in the Bryant defensive end, raced coast-to-coast eventually beating Donohoe with a great shot to bring the Bulldogs to within 5-4.

Joining Sniffen on the NEC All-Tournament team was sophomore Aileen Pearman (Fair Haven, N.J.), Vendel and junior goalie Brianna Watt (Babylon, N.Y.) who had an outstanding tournament for the Bulldogs between the pipes. Watt played a big role in leading the Bulldogs past Central Connecticut in the semifinals on Friday and again enjoyed another excellent afternoon on Sunday as she finished the game with five saves for the Bulldogs.

Bryant will lose only two starters from this year's team and returns a powerful offensive lineup with Vendel (46 goals), Sniffen (44), Haley Bloom (27), and Descalzo (36) back next year.

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