BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Westfield State left Clean Harbors Stadium leaving no doubt that they are the top team in the MASCAC, but the Massachusetts Maritime Academy women's lacrosse team gave on of their top performances of the year in a 17-4 loss.
The Owls scored twice in the third minute of the game, with Rachel Gelina opening the scoring. However, Anna Deely won the draw control and, despite playing the first half missing a player, Deely brought the ball into Westfield's half, passing to Stephanie Hunt. Hunt fought for a passing opportunity and found Casey Sullivan to make it 2-1.
The next seven minutes saw the two sides exchange possession several times, with each side committing turnovers without seeing much of goal. However, Samantha Coyle picked up a groundball for Westfield and fed it to Sydney Lambert, who passed to Shannon Gillis for the score.
From there, the goals came steadily for WSU as the team ran the score to 7-1, with each goal scored by a different player. However, another Deely draw control led to Hunt firing a pass to the triple-teamed Sullivan, who fired home for her second of the day with seven minutes left in the half.
Three goals in the next 2:30 led to another draw control win by the ever-present Deely. This time, Hunt took the ball into the D herself and beat the keeper to make it 10-3 with 2:21 remaining. Two goals in the last minute left no doubt who was in control, and the Owls took the 12-3 half-time lead.
The second half started with a series of turnovers and few shots in the first six minutes, before a Maritime turnover led to a Maddie Bartkus marker. The Owls then scored with regularity in roughly four-minute spans, taking a 17-3 lead with 6:20 left.
The final score came from a combination of plays that Buccaneer fans can look forward to for the next three years. Deely fought hard to win the draw control and Sullivan took advantage of a foul to score her third goal of the day to end the scoring.
"The score doesn't indicate it, but it was one of our better games of the year," remarked Head Coach Marc Palombo. "Our defense played really well. You could tell they were not expecting as much resistance in the first. To frustrate a team that is going to go deep into the playoffs I think is a minor victory for us. You never like losing, but we asked them to come away with something from this game and I think we got that."
Sullivan has scored in all 11 games she has played, with 26 goals in her last six games, all of which featured at least a hat trick. Her 35 goals on the season are two away from tying Hunt's record for rookie goals, while her total ranks third in the conference. Hunt herself had a goal and two assists as she draws closer to setting the Maritime record for points in a season.
"Casey continues, against the best teams, to be unstoppable," noted Palombo. "She is a prolific scorer. After the game, their coach asked me, 'Where did you get 19!?'
"Stephanie is the consummate player, knowing her role is to feed others. She is a goal-scorer, but she is growing into a complete player. That shows her role as a captain that she knows she has to get the ball to Anna and Casey."
The game, of course, belonged to the Owls, which had 12 players score, led by Hunter Zackaricz and Maddie Bartkus, who each collected a hat trick. Westfield out-shot the Buccaneers 32-12 and collecting five free possession goals on 11 attempts. The two sides were tied for turnovers at 25, though it was only with a two-person advantage in the second, that the Owls had fewer miscues.
Though Westfield collected 27 groundballs to Maritime's 24, the Bucs were very impressive. Hunt gathered in 10 groundballs, the most by any player in a game this season. Deely won three groundballs and eight draw controls as the Bucs led 15-7 on the 1-on-1 restarts. Sullivan picked up four controls as well.
"Hannah as the backer played really well. Jen, just the energy she came out with, she was on fire. Anna was killing the draws and groundballs. She stepped up. She came with an intensity tonight."
Mikayla Correia (5-6) made some heroic saves in stopping 9-of-26 and leads the MASCAC in saves. Maria Woodall (11-1) stopped five-of-eight in the first half, while Emma Duffy caught 2-of-3 in the second for the Owls.
"We asked them to step up on individual play and set goals and achieve them and I think they did a pretty good job," concluded Palombo. "It was a gratifying loss. It says a lot about our program that we can compete tonight against a tough team. We are not where we want to be, but we are on the road to it."
Westfield improves to 11-1 and 3-0 in the conference, while the Academy falls to 5-6, 0-3. MMA will take the weekend off before travelling to Bridgewater State University (7-5, 1-1) for a 7 p.m. Tuesday MASCAC tilt.
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate