By John Boccacino/Sports Information Director
The Keuka College women's lacrosse team survived a scare from SUNY Polytechnic Saturday in the semifinals of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament, but the top-seeded Wolfpack advanced with a 14-11 win over the Wildcats on a sunny afternoon at the Jephson Community Athletic Complex.
Senior Jennifer Burt (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan) and sophomore Sydney Forshay (Clifton Springs, N.Y./Midlakes) each scored four goals, senior Olivia Hudson (Adams, N.Y./South Jefferson) added three goals with one assist, and sophomore Morgan Bruno (Seneca Falls, N.Y./Mynderse) handed out three assists to power Keuka (13-2).
Hudson also won seven draw controls with five groundballs, senior Kaycee Maguire (Potsdam, N.Y./Potsdam) had one goal with one assist and three caused turnovers, and sophomore Kayla Robinson (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan) made six saves to improve to 10-0 on the year.
Forshay scooped up six groundballs, Burt added five groundballs, and sophomore Samantha Peacock (Phelps, N.Y./Midlakes) caused three turnovers to spark the Wolfpack into the title game.
Keuka, the NEAC regular season champions and winners of the NEAC postseason title in five of the last six years, will play No. 2 Morrisville State (10-7) at 1 p.m. Sunday for the NEAC crown and the conference's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Wolfpack, who have appeared in the NCAA tournament the last two years, earned the regular-season title after knocking off the Mustangs 15-13 in overtime April 25.
"We pulled together and did the things we needed to do to win. We had a few rough patches here and there, but that's part of the game and we played through it," said Hudson, Keuka's second-team All-NEAC midfielder.
"We struggled as far as turnovers, but our individuals played as a team, and that led to us scoring goals and getting our offense in a rhythm. We were there for each other, realizing that we can pull through and win even if we're having difficulties. We really came together as a team today."
Hudson scored three goals with one assist in the opening half, while Burt added three goals and Bruno assisted on three tallies as the Wolfpack enjoyed a 9-6 lead at halftime.
Fourth-seeded Poly (9-7) scored the first goal of the game on Krysta Beha's (3G, 3A) tally 3:48 into the semifinal.
Keuka responded with the next four goals as Forshay, Hudson, Maguire and Burt all found the back of the net in a span of 5:20 as the Wolfpack took control.
After Tierney McGlynn scored on a free-position shot, Hudson answered with a tally to extend the lead to 5-2. Beha scored twice as Poly scored four of the next five goals to pull even at six with 8:57 remaining in the opening half.
But the Wolfpack defense, led by seniors Anna Patton (Newark, N.Y./Newark) and Maggie Mercurio (Whitesboro, N.Y./Whitesboro), along with Peacock, sophomore Taylor Willsey (Mexico, N.Y./Mexico) and freshman Gabrielle Moshier (Johnson City, N.Y./Johnson City) clamped down and held the Wildcats scoreless for 16:04 spanning both halves.
"We stayed with our cutters, we knew the key players we needed to be aware of, and our communication was great today," Patton said. "We hustled very well. There are always things you can fix, and we'll fix those for tomorrow, but overall we played very well. We definitely don't want this run to end; it's part of the fire in all of us and especially in the seniors. We don't want to give it to Morrisville tomorrow: we want to win, make it back to the NCAA's and go as far as we can."
Willsey and Burt scored off feeds from Bruno, and Hudson added a goal as Keuka scored three times in a span of 1:56 to lead 9-6, and that was the score heading to halftime.
Forshay scored consecutive goals to extend the lead to 11-6, but the Wildcats scored five of the next six goals to close within 12-11 on Meghan Serota's goal with 2:23 remaining.
Following a yellow card on SUNY Poly, Maguire fed Burt for a man-up tally, and Forshay tacked on an unassisted goal with 15 seconds left to clinch the win.
The victory, Keuka's ninth straight, sets up a rematch with Morrisville for a return trip to the NCAA tournament on the line.
"We have to all come prepared and ready to play. We have to be pumped up and ready to go, because Morrisville will come out really hard and they will want to win, too," Hudson said. "We just have to realize that we can beat them again. Deep down in our hearts and in our heads, we know that we can pull through and get that win. This has been a huge rivalry for me since my freshman year and you have that feeling in your gut that you want this win really bad."