FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Casey Sullivan became the first player in Massachusetts Maritime Academy women's lacrosse history to score 50 goals as part of a four goal run in the second half, but the comeback bid was not enough to overcome a 12-4 halftime deficit and the season ended with a 19-9 loss to Framingham State University, who lost only two games all year.
The Buccaneers jumped out to a 3-1 lead just over eight minutes into the game. Stephanie Hunt (Brookfield, Conn.) got the Bucs on the board first with an unassisted goal before Alissa Marino equalized. Hunt put the Bucs back on top and Casey Sullivan (Braintree, Mass.) scored off a feed from Hunt for the 3-1 advantage.
The Rams then used an 8-0 run to take a 9-3 advantage with just under ten minutes remaining in the half. Freshman Hanna McMahon tallied three goals on the spurt, while sophomore Nicole Pacheco scored a pair of goals and picked up an assist on the run.
Sullivan converted a free position shot with 8:12 left on the clock, but the Rams scored the final three of the half including one apiece from Marino, sophomore Grace Gamache and Pacheco to lead 12-4 at the break.
A free position shot from Hunt got Mass. Maritime on the board first in the second half, but the Rams quickly scored three in-a-row including one apiece from Marino, Gamache, and Jenna McMahon to take a 15-5 lead.
Down by 10 goals, it appeared that the Buccaneers were out of the game, but the women showed really fight in their last 12 minutes in the season. After nine minutes of back-and-forth play followed the McMahon goal, Buccaneer goalkeeper Mikayla Correia picked up a groundball and the team moved the ball downfield, with Hunt finding Sullivan for the 12:12 marker.
Sullivan won the ensuing draw control herself and a foul on Framingham set up a free possession shot, with Hunt electing to dish to Sullivan yet again for the Bucs' seventh goal. The draw control was won by the Rams, but quickly turned over, and Correia snagged the grounder once more. This time Hunt brought the ball into the D herself and beat the keeper for her fourth goal of the game.
Sullivan stepped up to snag the draw again and a foul sent Jennifer Leung (Quincy, Mass.) to arc for a free possession shot. On the first shot of her college career, the defender netted and, suddenly, the visitors were down six with just under 10 minutes remaining.
The comeback bid was quickly silenced, however, as the Rams tallied the final four of the contest to seal the 19-9 victory.
Junior Indigo Fox Tree-McGrath made four saves for the Rams, while Mikayla Correia (Dartmouth, Mass.) made eight stops for the visitors and picked up four groundballs. Amazingly, the team put all 13 of its shot on target, but was out-shot 35-13. The Rams won the battle for groundballs (27-19), draw controls (19-11), fewest turnovers (12-23), while Bucs continued to give up free possession goals as the host side netted on five-of-nine.
Marino paced the Rams offense with four goals and an assist, while Pacheco tallied three goals, two helpers, and five groundballs. Hanna McMahon added three goals. Meanwhile, MASCAC points leader Gamache tallied two goals and three assist for the Rams as she surpassed the 50 goal and 50 assist mark for the season.
The Buccaneers received four goal apiece from Sullivan and Hunt, while Hunt added three helpers to become the first player in Academy history to score 80 points in a season. Hunt will graduate as the all-time leader in all career offensive categories as she turns the scoring mantle over to Sullivan, who has re-set the season scoring record at the half-century mark.
Sullivan will conclude the season with 50 goals, tied for second in the MASCAC and most among rookies. Among players with at least two shots per game, on average, she led the league in shooting percentage (58.1 percent) and was fifth in shot-on-goal percentage (86 percent). Hunt is ranked third in the circuit in points (82) and assists (46), tying for 10th in goals (36).
Other statistical achievements by players included Anna Deely's 53 goundballs and 85 draw controls, tops among all MASCAC rookies and third overall in each category. Hunt's 50 grounders collected was fourth in the league and 13 free possession goals was second.
With the win, the Rams conclude the regular season with a program best 15-2 record overall and 6-1 mark in the league. The Buccaneers see their season come to a close at 6-9 overall and 1-6 in the league, the most wins in a single season for the Academy.
"We set a lofty goal of playoffs and couldn't pull that off, but we made great strides," noted Head Coach Marc Palombo. "It was a good season. We tripled our wins and made huge strides in our goal differential."
"I think our defense adapted really well," added Assistant Coach Olivia Coakley. "The new kids that started, their stick skills are really improving. If this is the starting point, then that is a really good place to be."
The Buccaneers set more than 30 records this year, with most of the core of the offensive unit remaining intact. The toughest challenge, however, will be finding a replacement for Correia.
"Our challenge is replacing a person like Mikayla, who is the best keeper in Academy history," concluded Palombo. "We also lose Stephanie, our all-time leading scorer, but will return the rest of our field players. Next year, we will need to control the ball a little better and work on our shutdown defence. However, we have a good foundation for next year."
With much to which to look forward with this young and exciting squad, bookmark www.mmabucs.com and get the inside scoop on Facebook and Twitter @mmabuccaneers. Plus, check out our new Instagram @massmaritimebuccaneers.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate, with copy from Kathy Lynch, Framingham State University