Nazareth Falls to Fisher in Empire 8 Semifinals

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Third-seeded Nazareth fell to second-seeded and 20th-ranked St. John Fisher 12-9 in a women's Empire 8 Conference semifinal lacrosse game, which is being hosted by Ithaca College. Senior Alyssa Johnston scored four goals to lead the Golden Flyers, which gives her 47 goals during the season and ranks her fifth in the Empire 8. Johnston and junior Tara Prosak were named to the all-tournament team. Prosak recorded a game-high eight saves in 51 minutes of action.

With the loss, Nazareth falls to 9-8 overall. St. John Fisher advances to the Empire 8 title game to play 14th-ranked Ithaca, who defeated Stevens 17-11 in Saturday's first semifinal contest. The Golden Flyers entered Saturday's game as winners in four of their previous five games. The lone loss during the stretch was to fourth-ranked Cortland. The Cardinals improved to 14-3 overall. Fisher has now won six consecutive games, dating back to its 12-8 regular season victory over Nazareth on April 13th.

The Golden Flyers outscored the Cardinals 6-5 in the second half, but it was not enough to allow Nazareth to rally after being outscored 7-3 in the opening period. After Johnston caused a turnover on Fisher's Brie Frey, she scored to trim Nazareth's deficit to three goals only 1:11 into the second half. About five minutes later, sophomore Brooke Sullivan cut the score to 7-5 with an unassisted score.

The Cardinals took advantage of a yellow card on freshman Carly Gates as Samantha Barton scored a man-up goal with 20:36 to play in regulation. Melissa Leonhard, Fisher's leading scorer, added another goal to to extend the Cardinals' lead to 9-5 with just over 16 minutes left to play. Leonhard finished the game with five goals and now ranks second in the Conference with 56 tallies on the season. The Cardinals extended their lead to 11-5 with 8:56 left to play in the period following a goal by Tori Suto.

The Golden Flyers, however, began chipping away at their deficit 16 seconds after Suto's goal. Junior Amy McIntosh converted a free position shot with 8:40 to play, then Gates scored less than one minute later. Following Leonhard's fifth goal of the game, senior Megan Cregan scored after receiving a pass from classmate Erinn Wood. Cregan's goal cut the score to 12-8 with 6:06 to play in regulation.

Fisher was whistled for seven fouls in about a minute as Nazareth tried to establish a rally. Johnston converted a free position shot with 4:50 to play in the game to bring the Golden Flyers to within three goals. Nazareth won the ensuing draw control but ended up turning the ball over. Fisher's goalie, Nicole Hart, saved a shot by Johnston with 2:41 remaining to maintain the Cardinals' lead.

In the first half, Fisher scored twice in the opening 2:19 to take the early lead. After not scoring for almost 15 minutes, Nazareth scored back-to-back goals in a span of 55 seconds to tie the contest. Sullivan put Nazareth on the board with 15:20 left in the first, then Johnston scored her first goal of the game after receiving a pass from junior Leigh Fournier.

The Cardinals scored the next four goals to build their advantage. Johnston scored a man-up goal with 5:05 to play in the half to score Nazareth's third goal of the stanza.

Prosak, who entered the game leading the Conference in save percentage at 53 percent, was credited with eight saves and 11 goals against in 51:04 of action. Senior Shelby Robinson played the final 8:56 and allowed one goal. Hart finished with seven saves as she played the whole game in goal for Fisher.

The Cardinals finished with a 26-22 advantage in total shots and a 17-11 advantage in ground balls collected. The Golden Flyers had a 15-8 advantage in draw controls. Sullivan had a game-high five draw controls for Nazareth.


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