GNAC SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: #4 Lasell @ #1 Saint Joseph's

GNAC SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: #4 Lasell @ #1 Saint Joseph's

STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (16-2, 9-0 GNAC) will host #4 Lasell College (11-6, 6-3 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women's Lacrosse Tournament Semifinal at Deering Memorial Stadium tonight at 8:00 PM.

How they got here

Saint Joseph's finished the season with a 16-2 record and went undefeated (9-0) in GNAC play en route to earning the top seed in the GNAC Tournament for the second-consecutive season. In the opening quarterfinal round of the GNAC Tournament, Saint Joseph's took down #8 seed Norwich University, 18-6, on Tuesday at Deering Memorial Stadium.

Lasell defeated fifth-seeded Simmons College by a 15-5 margin in other GNAC quarterfinal action on Tuesday night.

GNAC Tournament History

Saint Joseph's, the reigning GNAC Champions, have made the GNAC Tournament in eight of nine seasons as a varsity program. The Monks defeated Lasell in the 2015 title bout by a 10-3 score on April 26th at Deering. St. Joe's has won seven of the program's 13 GNAC postseason games since 2008 and has advanced to the GNAC Championship in each of the last two seasons.

The Lasers, who also joined the GNAC prior to the start of the 2007-08 academic year, have appeared in the GNAC Tournament in eight of the last nine seasons with a 9-6 record in postseason play. Tonight's contest serves as a rematch of the 2015 GNAC Championship, which was won by Saint Joseph's, 10-3 at Deering Memorial Stadium.

Tonight's matchup counts as the Lasers' seventh GNAC semifinal appearance since 2008 as Lasell has played in four championship contests with the program's first title coming by way of a 15-14 win over Simmons in 2013.

What happens next?

Tonight's winner faces off against the victor of the other GNAC Tournament semifinal game being played this evening - #2 Emmanuel College hosts #3 Johnson & Wales University in a 7:00 PM start – in the conference championship on Saturday. The higher seed will serve as the host.

What have you done lately?

Including Tuesday's GNAC quarterfinal win, Saint Joseph's comes into this semifinal matchup riding a 10-game winning streak. The Monks averaged 17.5 goals per contest while allowing just 3.9 goals per game during this span.

Including Tuesday's triumph over Simmons, Lasell enters tonight's contest riding a three-game winning streak with victories in the five of the team's last six games overall. After falling to Johnson & Wales by a 16-15 margin on April 23rd, the Lasers closed out the regular season with lopsided wins over GNAC opponents Albertus Magnus College (19-1) and Rivier University (19-7).

Who to watch – Saint Joseph's:

Senior Midfielder Kat Gadbois (Scarborough, Maine)

  • Leads the team, and ranks second in the GNAC, in points (86) with at least one point in every game this season
  • Averaging 2.67 goals per contest and ranks third on the team with 48 goals – including seven in the last three games
  • The two-year team captain ranks second on the team in assists (38) with 12 over in the last five games
  • Also an aggressive defensive player, she paces the team in groundballs (69) and is second on the team in caused turnovers (31)
  • Currently ranks as the Monks' career leader in ground balls (275) and caused turnovers (119) and is second in assists (77), and third in goals (139) and points (216)

Senior Attack Mary Leasure (South Portland, Maine)

  • A key cog for the Royal Blue offense, she paces the conference in assists by a wide margin with 49 – a program single-season record
  • Ranks fourth on the team with 64 points and has tallied 15 goals
  • Comes into this game on a tear after recording 20 assists in her last four games, including a program single-game record seven helpers versus Norwich on Tuesday
  • The Monks' far and away career leader in assists (105) also ranks fifth all-time in points (181)

Sophomore Attack Elyse Caiazzo (Scarborough, Maine)

  • Leads the team, and conference, with 66 goals and ranks fourth in ground balls (62), fifth in points (81), and eighth in caused turnovers (26)
  • The 2015 GNAC Rookie of the Year has tallied 136 goals and 170 total points in just 37 games
  • Has netted at least one goal in every collegiate contest to date

Who to watch – Lasell:

Sophomore Midfielder Taylor Yandow (Moretown, Vt.)

  • Leads the Lasell attack – which features eight players with 20 or more points – with 41 goals and 12 assists for 53 total points
  • Ranks 13th in the GNAC in goals and points and fifth in draw controls (72)
  • Also seventh in the conference in free-position goals (12)

Senior Attack Bridget Doherty (Franklin, Mass.)

  • Leads the Lasers with 22 assists and ranks second on the squad with 46 total points
  • Ranked eighth in the conference in assists and 15th in shooting percentage (55.8%)
  • Enters tonight's contest with 177 career points (128 goals, 49 assists) in 68 games

Senior Midfielder Bridget Munnelly (Bellingham, Mass.)

  • All-around contributor who leads the Lasers in ground balls (57) and caused turnovers (30) and ranks second on the team in draw controls (63)
  • Has contributed offensively with 18 goals and four assists for 22 total points
  • Currently ranks fifth in the GNAC in caused turnovers, sixth in ground balls, and seventh in draw controls

Recipe for success – Saint Joseph's:

St. Joe's currently leads the conference in goals (272), goals per game (15.11), assists (161), goals-against (98), and save percentage (50.5). The Monks rank third in the country in scoring margin (9.44), second in the nation in scoring defense (5.06), and eighth in points per game with 23.28.

The Monks are 11-0 at home this season and have outscored opponents by an average of 10.36 goals per game when serving as the host.

Recipe for success – Lasell:

The Lasers will be a tough matchup for the Monks, as the visitors are a well-balanced team with plenty of playoff experience and an axe to grind after suffering a 10-3 defeat in the 2015 GNAC Championship. Lasell features seven seniors – six starters - on the roster and the 2016 class certainly has plans on ending their career on the same note on which it began – with a GNAC Championship.

Strong on both ends of the field, the Lasers are ranked second in the GNAC in goals-against average (8.30) and caused turnovers (175) and third in goals (234) and shooting percentage (46.2%). Four of Lasell's six losses have been by four or fewer goals and the Lasers are 1-5 when allowing 10 or more strikes.

Attitude reflects leadership:

Saint Joseph's – Head Coach Rupert Lewis (44-20, .688) – Fourth Season

Coach Lewis, who returned to the lacrosse sidelines last spring after a five-year absence, made waves in his first year back by guiding the Monks to one of the most successful seasons in SJC Athletics history. Under his watch in 2015, St. Joe's went 17-2 overall with an impeccable 9-0 mark in conference play en route to claiming the program's first GNAC Championship and NCAA Tournament berth. For his efforts, Lewis was selected as the 2015 GNAC Coach of the Year.

The first head coach in Saint Joseph's women's lacrosse history, Lewis played a significant role in lifting the former club program to NCAA DIII varsity status, as the Monks played under his watch during the squad's inaugural season (2008). In two years at the helm for the fledgling program, Lewis posted an 11-16 record, including a 5-6 mark in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play, with conference tournament appearances both years.

Lasell – Head Coach Cait Connolly (73-35, .676) – Sixth Season

In nearly six full years at the helm, Coach Connolly has put the Lasell College women's lacrosse program on the map in New England. Connolly has led the Lasers to GNAC Championship appearances in four of the last five seasons – including the program's first title, and subsequent NCAA Tournament appearance, in 2013 – and guided her teams to a spectacular 45-9 (.833) record versus conference foes.

The last time we met:

Saint Joseph's outlasted Lasell, 12-11, in a pivotal conference matchup in Newton, Massachusetts on April 14th of this season. The Monks led by five (11-6) with 22:38 remaining in the second half, but the Lasers rallied with five of the game's following six markers to make it a one-goal game with 4:04 on the clock. St. Joe's managed to hold on for the win, but the outcome may have been different if a free-position shot taken at the 1:40 mark by senior Taylor Dooley (Barnstable, Mass.) had not rattled off the post.

Historically speaking:

Saint Joseph's is 5-6 all-time versus Lasell College and has defeated the Lasers in four-consecutive meetings dating back to the 2014 season. Three of the last four games have been decided by two or fewer goals.

 

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Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.