WESTON, Mass. - Regis senior defender Carla Brito (Madeira, Portugal) scored the game winning goal on a penalty stroke with 1:06 left on the clock on Saturday afternoon, lifting the Regis (Mass.) field hockey team over Elms College by a score of 2-1 in the New England Collegiate Conference championship game. The championship is the third for Regis since joining the NECC in 2011, and second in the last three years.
With the win, the Pride improves to 12-7 on the season and has earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The loss ends the season for the Blazers, who finish with a record of 10-10.
The teams appeared to be headed into the half scoreless, but instead Elms sophomore forward Madison Messier (Warren, Conn.) put the Blazers on the board with a redirect with 3:34 remaining in the half. Freshman midfielder Olivia Keane (Enfield, Conn.) fired a shot toward the cage from the left side of the circle, and Messier was able to redirect the ball home for her 17th goal of the season.
The Elms lead was extremely short-lived however, as the Pride was awarded a penalty stroke just 42 seconds later off a scrum in front of the net. Sophomore defender Yvonne Abate(Easton, Mass.) stepped up to take the stroke for the Pride and beat Elms goalkeeper Jillian Lapponese (Enfield, Conn.) low to even the score. Abate's second goal of the season evened the score at 1-1, which the score would remain through most of the remainder of the game.
The Pride had a glorious chance to take the lead in the 65th minute, when semifinal hero Mackenzie Cattaruzza (Guilford, Conn.) redirected a shot from Jenna Casello (Westborough, Mass.) toward the cage off a penalty corner. Cattaruzza had Lapponese beat, but missed wide to the left of the goal by mere inches to keep the score level.
Regis was determined to win the game in regulation, and got their chance with just over a minute to play. After the teams scrambled for a loose ball right in front of the cage, an Elms defender fell on top of the ball and the Pride was awarded their second penalty stroke of the afternoon. Brito was chosen to take the stroke, and lifted the ball past a sprawling Lapponese for the game-winning tally.
Lapponese made six saves in the loss, while her counterpart, Regis goalkeeper Maresa Malcolm (Barrington, N.J.) made two saves to help her team secure the win.
After the game, the following student-athletes were named to the 2016 New England Collegiate Conference All-Tournament Team:
Amy Grenier (Westminster, Mass.) - Becker
Elysabeth Jefferies (Lisbon Falls, Maine) - Becker
Genevieve Dyer (Chebeague Island, Maine) - Wheelock
Katie Frade (Dartmouth, Mass.) - Wheelock
Stephanie Esposito (Orange, Conn.) - Elms
Marie Lafortune (Southwick, Mass.) - Elms
Marissa Mizzone (Orange, Conn.) - Elms
Jillian Lapponese - Elms
Carla Brito - Regis
Mackenzie Cattaruzza - Regis
Ashley Sanzaro (Glastonbury, Conn.) - Regis
Yvonne Abate - Regis - Tournament Most Valuable Player
Source: (Regis College Athletics)