GENESEO, N.Y. – Stevenson women's lacrosse junior Kathryn Merrick scored two late goals to tie the game at four, but Katey Hart scored her third goal of the game with 1:10 remaining as No. 8 Geneseo defeated the 20th-ranked Mustangs, 5-4, in the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Second Round Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Field.
The Mustangs (13-6), who were making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, held their opponent to five goals or less for the fifth time but Stevenson was held to a season-low four goals.
The nine combined goals is the second lowest goal total through the quarterfinal round and third lowest in any round in NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse history. Three goals scored in the first half of a tournament game is tied for first for the lowest all-time.
The first half proved to be a defensive battle as all three goals were scored in the first three minutes of the game. Stevenson struck first on a free-position goal by senior Mandy Marston, 2:26 into the contest.
The Knights (17-2) responded just 34 seconds later as Liz Felix scored unassisted following the draw control. Geneseo won all four draw controls in the opening half. Geneseo would take a 2-1 lead after Caroline Buonocore was awarded a free-position shot and found Hart cutting in front of the cage.
Both teams got off to a shaky start as the teams combined for 22 turnovers in the opening period. It was the defense that kept both teams in the game as junior Leanne Bittner and Laura Passamonte had three and two saves, respectively at the half.
The Mustangs thought they had tied the game at two with just 33 seconds remaining before halftime, but Merrick's shot was called off do to shooting space. Merrick was awarded a free-position shot but Passamonte came up with a big stop.
Hart extended the Knights lead to 3-1 just 2:29 into the second half on a team leading 20th assist from Emily Haggerty.
Sophomore Tori Wagner cut Stevenson's deficit to one after her shot appeared to be saved but the official standing on the goal line signaled goal. Bittner did her part to keep the deficit at one as she came up with back-to-back free-position saves with just under 10 minutes gone in the second half.
With 10:07 remaining, Haggerty scored unassisted to extend the Knights lead back to two. This time it was Passamonte who came up with two big saves to preserve Geneseo's two-goal lead.
Merrick scored her 50th goal of the season on a free-position goal to cut the deficit back to one with 4:15 remaining. After the Knight won the ensuing draw control, Bittner came up with her ninth of ten saves on the day to give the Mustangs possession.
Senior Leah Warner found Merrick cutting across the cage as Merrick quickly fired it passed Passamonte to tie the game at four with 2:24 remaining.
Haggerty grabbed her fifth draw control of the afternoon to award Geneseo possession. The Knights won nine of the 11 draw controls. Following a foul, Hart scored the game-winning goal on a free-position shot with 1:10 left in the contest. Stevenson could not regain possession as Haggerty again won the ensuing draw.
Bittner finished with at least 10 saves for the eighth time this season and third in the past six games. Meanwhile, sophomore Carli Bafford picked up a game-high five ground balls while senior Emily Boller totaled two caused turnovers.
Geneseo advances to the round-of-16 on Saturday, May 17, where it will face Franklin & Marshall.
Today's game marked the end of the careers of, Warner, Marston, Boller and Marissa Meiklejohn. The 2014 senior class finishes with a 43-25 record, the best four-year record in school history. In addition to leading the Mustangs to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, they also led Stevenson to its first-ever conference title.
Warner and Meiklejohn appeared in a school-record 70 games, while Marston appeared in 69. Warner will leave with a school record 273 points on a school record 105 assists and 168 goals which ranks second. Meiklejohn ranks third all-time with 229 points on a school record 173 goals. Marston finishes her career with 103 on 80 goals. A two-year member of the team, Boller saw limited action this season due to injury and finished her career with seven ground balls, four caused turnovers and three draw controls.