No. 5 Jeffs Post 11-7 Season-Opening Win Over 17th-Ranked Union

WELLINGTON, FL – The fifth-ranked Amherst College women's lacrosse team opened their 2006 slate with a decisive 11-7 victory over  non-conference rival No. 17 Union College in Wellington, Fla. on Sunday night.  Amherst held Union scoreless for the last 22 minutes of play and scored five straight goals to rally from a 7-6 deficit and steal the win.  Junior Alyssa Briody (Hopewell, NJ) netted a game-high four goals and dished out an assist, while rookie Mary Noonan (West Roxbury, MA) posted a hat trick in her first collegiate performance.

Amherst started out shaky in the early minutes, losing the opening draw and committing several early turnovers to give the Dutchwomen a 2-0 lead off free-position shots from first-year Keri Messa and junior Alexandra Toney.  Noonan got Amherst on the board at 23:13, burning her Union defender with a textbook one-on-one move.  Toney added her second goal of the game 30 seconds later, but sophomore Maddie Hoeg (Shoreham, NY) and Briody quickly responded with free-position tallies of their own to knot the score at 3-3.  Senior defenders Margaret Chute (Pawtucket, RI) and Laura Brown (Bethesda, MD) picked up three ground balls and three caused turnovers, respectively, to lead an Amherst defense that allowed no Union scores for fifteen minutes of the first session. 

Rookie Amy Craig (Denver, CO) netted her first career-goal to put Amherst ahead and force a Union timeout at 13:11, but the break didn't help the Dutchwomen, as solid Amherst ball-handling and speedy midfield defense, highlighted by impressive hustle from juniors Rachel Lewis (Denver, CO), who tallied a game-high three draw controls, and Lauren Dudley (Baltimore, MD), who snatched four ground balls, kept control in Amherst's hands for the remainder of the half.   An errant Union pass slipped by sophomore goaltender Linda McEvoy (Rochester, NY) at 7:58 to tie the game once again, but Briody gave the Jeffs a slim lead going into the break, getting her second goal of the evening by baiting her defender inside the eight and pulling for a strong side shot that beat Union keeper senior Rachel Beckman.

Union came out firing after the break, getting goals from senior Robyn Ross and junior Stephanie Cronan to retake the lead, 6-5, at 26:14.  A pretty crease roll from Noonan just over a minute later tied the score for a third time. Sophomore Dutchwoman Caitlin Cuozzo netted a score at 22:07, but it was all Amherst down the stretch, as Noonan added her third goal on a free-position awarded after a Union three-second violation and Briody tallied two more eight-meter goals before the 11-minute mark.  The Amherst midfield defense was instrumental in the waning minutes and was highlighted by a spectacular midfield double-team by Hoeg and junior Liz Wise (Scarsdale, NY), who forced a Union ball-carrier out-of-bounds and picked up the extra possession on the inaugural hard boundaries rule.  Senior Scotty Hanley (Sparks, MD) and sophomore Gretchen DeLuke (Lewiston, NY) added insurance tallies as time ran out to put the game out of reach for Union.

Amherst won the ground ball battle, scooping up 20 to Union's 12.  The Jeffs were awarded 20 free-position chances and only gave up seven. 

McEvoy posted eight saves in the win, while Beckman tallied three stops.

Amherst returns to action on Thursday, March 23 when they face non-conference rival Eastern Connecticut State College at 7 p.m. in Wellington, Fla.