Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – With less than 10 seconds play, senior Kathleen Tuechler (Farmingdale, N.Y.) found the back of the net to send the Elms College women's lacrosse team to a 12-11 win over visiting Wheelock College in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) clash at Leary Field Saturday evening. With the win, the Blazers set a new program-high for wins in a season, moving to 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the NECC, while the Wildcats dip to 4-3 in conference play, and 6-6 on the season.
The Blazers harnessed an early lead as freshman Haley Richard (Monson, Mass.) and Janis Christian (Westfield, Mass.) netted back-to-back goals in the second minute of action to hand Elms the 2-0 advantage. In the ninth minute of play, the Wildcats responded with sophomore Colleen Macdonald (Sandwich, Mass.) converted consecutive free-position attempts to even the score at 2-2.
At the 15:49 mark, Wheelock took their first lead of the game with junior Molly Brennan (Walpole, N.H.) connecting with sophomore Georgia Schindele (Sparkill, N.Y.) in the attacking zone to make it 3-2. Less than 20 seconds later, Elms freshman Alecia Keesee (Westfield, Mass.) tied the game, and then handed the Blazers a 4-3 lead with another strike less than two minutes later. With 9:40 on the clock, Wheelock junior Katie Frade (Dartmouth, Mass.) potted an unassisted goal to even the score, followed by a tally from Macdonald with less than two minutes remaining to hand Wheelock a 5-4 lead at the half.
Macdonald struck again to open the scoring in the second half, putting Wheelock on top 6-4. The Blazers closed the gap as sophomore Vanessa Vurno (Salem, Conn.) scored off a pass from junior Alissa Porfilio (Agawam, Mass.), followed by junior Jackie Soucia (Belchertown, Mass.) scoring off the draw to knot the score at 6-6 with 26:37 to play. After Macdonald and Keesee exchanged goals, Macdonald and Schindele recorded back-to-back goals to build a 9-7 lead for the Wildcats.
Trailing 10-8 with 13:39 remaining in the game, Richard found Christian on a break to the net to put the Blazers within a goal, 10-9. A tally from Schindele created separation for Wheelock, but Elms orchestrated a comeback attempt over the final 10 minutes of action.
Tuechler ignited the rally, finding the back of the net off a feed from Richard at the 9:45 mark. Entering the final two minutes of play, the Blazers forced a turnover in the midfield and Porfilio scooped the loose ball and streaked to the attacking zone. A pass from Porfilio sailed over Vurno, but Vurno raced after the loose ball and shoveled a shot over the shoulder of Wildcat senior goalie Meghan Lewis (South Berwick, Mass.) to even the score at 11-11. After winning the final draw, Tuechler received a pass, knifed around the Wheelock defense and fired a shot to the back of the net, sending Elms to the 12-11 victory.
The Blazers outshot the Wildcats, 35-20, and won draw controls, 17-7, during the contest. O'Connor stopped four shots for Elms, while Lewis made a game-high 14 saves for Wheelock.
The Blazers will be back on the field when they host St. Joseph (Conn.) in non-conference action at Leary Field Monday at 4:00 p.m. Wheelock travels to Daniel Webster for an NECC contest Tuesday at 4:15 p.m.