SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo women's lacrosse team opened its home slate on a high note, picking up a key 10-6 regional victory over Gannon University on Sunday afternoon at University Turf Stadium. The win advances the Lions' young season to 2-1, while Gannon opens its 2014 campaign with a mark of 0-1.
Freshman Kelsey Burns led the team with three points on the day, notching two goals and adding an assist. A total of seven Lions scored goals, with Joanna Chadwick and Allie Sheftall scoring two apiece, while Alix Murray, Sarah Johnson, Andrea Kuhl, and Kelly Smigiera added one each. Christina Minneci dished out a team high two assists, while Johnson earned an assist of her own to wrap up the Lions' scoring efforts.
The Golden Knights were led by Kimberly Neagle, who scored a game best four points, tallying three goals and one assist. Stevie Lombardoni placed two balls in cage, while Christie Valentine added one goal. Tessa Mitchell led Gannon in assists with two.
Defensively, Brittany Millsap made nine saves while facing 19 shots and 15 shots on goal in 57 minutes of action in cage. Freshman Kaylyn Kearns closed out the game earning a ground ball in her time between the pipes. Their counterpart for Gannon, Margaret Maslyn, made 10 saves while allowing 10 goals as she faced 26 shots and 20 shots on goal.
It was a hard fought first half for both teams that saw two lead changes and four tie scores. Gannon got the scoring started at the 28:47 mark thanks to Neagle converting a free-position shot to put the Golden Knights up 1-0 early on.
The Lions answered back five minutes later, with Chadwick scoring an unassisted goal with 23:14 on the clock to pull the score even to 1-1, and a free position goal from Smigiera 33 seconds later gave the Green and Gold its first lead of the day, 2-1.
Gannon knotted the score at 2-2 three minutes later on a goal by Lombardoni, but Sheftall put one past Maslyn at the 16:15 mark on a free position shot to advance the Lions to a 3-2 lead. Despite the Lions' best defensive efforts, the Golden Knights rattled off two quick goals within 41 seconds of each other to pull ahead to their second lead of the game, 4-3, with 14:12 to go in the first half. But Sheftall converted her second free position shot of the day with 2:40 on the clock to close out the half with the score tied at 4-4.
The second half opened up much like the first. Saint Leo scored first to pull ahead to a 5-4 lead thanks to Minneci connecting a pass to Johnson for the goal, but Gannon scored the ensuing two goals to pull ahead to a 6-5 advantage with 17:37 to go.
Burns netted a free position shot at the 15:10 mark, and ignited a five goal run for Saint Leo that went unanswered by Gannon. With smart play on attack, and solid defensive moves on the opposite end of the turf, the Lions closed out the game with a four goal lead.
Saint Leo led the shot count, 26-19, and placed 20 shots on goal while Gannon shot 15 on target. The Lions won the ground ball count, 24-15, and were successful on 17-of-20 clear attempts. Saint Leo was 4-for-8 on free position shots, while the Golden Knights scored on 3-of-8 shot attempts.
The Saint Leo women's lacrosse team returns to action on Tuesday, March 4, when they take on Southern New Hampshire University at home at 7 p.m.
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