WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - The Quinnipiac women's lacrosse team secured the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Conference playoffs with a 13-8 victory over Monmouth on Saturday afternoon at Kessler Field. The Bobcats, who win the NEC outright for the first time in program history, were led by juniors Devon Gibney (Hopkinton, Mass.), who collected four points and (a career-high) seven draw controls, and Marissa Caroleo's (North Babylon, N.Y.) five goal afternoon. Quinnipiac finishes the regular season with an 8-1 NEC mark and an 11-4 overall record, while the loss drops Monmouth to 5-4 in NEC action and 10-7 overall.
"The team played a solid 60 minutes today, and that's something we've been working on all season," said head coach Danie Caro. "I couldn't be happier that they actually won the regular season championship, rather than backing into it with help. My staff has told them all season that they are capable of playing with anyone in this conference and today they proved it."
Caroleo had another tremendous game offensively, as she has now scored five or more goals in four games thus far on the year.
"Marissa had a great game for us today," said Caro. "She put points on the board, helped control the tempo, and did a great job in transition for us."
Besides Caroleo and Gibney, Quinnipiac's offense received support from sophomore Lianne Toomey (Hicksville, N.Y.), who buried three key second half goals for the Bobcats. Sophomore Sarah Allen (Glastonbury, Conn.) picked up three assists, while senior Christine Sinnigen (Sudbury, Mass.) collected one goal and two assists. Junior Jennifer Skipper (Centerport, N.Y.) added a goal and an assist, while senior Laura Iannotti (Rocky Point, N.Y.) scored one goal.
"What really made the coaching staff happy are the little contributions we received from everyone today," said Caro. "No one had a bad game, and every single player stepped up and made plays when we needed them to."
The Bobcats were scrappy on loose balls all over the field, as Sinnigen and senior Kelley McDonough (Mahopac, N.Y.) each shared a team-high total of three ground balls. Gibney collected a career-high seven draw controls and added a team-high three caused turnovers.
"Devon was awesome on the draw for us and did a great job on defense today," said Caro. "She was a big factor in the win."
Junior goalie Noelle Martello (Westbury, Conn.) played another outstanding game in net, making 13 saves on 21 shots, compared to Monmouth's goalie, Kirby Mundorf, who made five saves on 18 shots. With the victory, Martello ties the program record for most single-season victories, with 10.
"Noelle had a great second half today," said Caro. "When she plays with confidence, our entire defense plays better."
Quinnipiac scored the first goal of the contest on a Sinnigen tally just over six minutes into the game. Monmouth netted the game's next two goals, before Quinnipiac re-tied the score at two apiece on Gibney's first goal of the game with 20:28 remaining in the first half.
Monmouth and Quinnipiac traded the next two scores, as Caroleo's goal with 16:05 remaining in the first half brought the score to three apiece. The Hawks netted two straight goals to increase its lead to 5-3, but Quinnipiac would score the final four goals of the half to take a 7-5 lead going into the locker rooms at halftime. Caroleo collected two goals, while Gibney and Iannotti each scored one goal during that time span.
The Hawks scored the first goal of the second half, but Caroleo responded with her fourth goal of the game to give Quinnipiac the 8-6 lead. Monmouth then registered two quick goals to tie the score, 8-8 with 20:28 remaining in the game.
Quinnipiac proceeded to blank the Hawks for the remainder of the game, and ended the half on a five goal scoring run to give the game its final score, 13-8. Toomey found her offense at this time and registered her three goals of the game, while Caroleo scored her fifth of the contest and Skipper netted her first during the run.
Depending on the outcome of the Mount St. Mary's versus Sacred Heart game scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., Quinnipiac will host either Monmouth or Sacred Heart in the first round of the NEC playoffs, on Friday, Apr. 29.