SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (May 12, 2013) - Senior Liz Malenfant stopped an astonishing 22 shots to earn Most Outstanding Player honors and lead the second-seeded Mount Holyoke College lacrosse team to a 17-16 victory over top-seeded Western New England University in the ECAC New England Championship title game. The Lyons finish with a record of 13-4, tying the record for wins in a season, while the Golden Bears conclude their year with a 15-6 overall mark.
Malenfant (Nantucket, Mass./White Mountain School (N.H.) was stellar in goal for the Lyons, stopping 11 shots in each half of Sunday's title game and also recorded 11 saves in Saturday's semifinal win over Southern Maine for a weekend total of 33 saves. Many of the shots came from point-blank range. Her defensive stance at the end of the game proved to be the difference for MHC as she made back-to-back saves in a 30-second span to keep her team ahead by one with 56 seconds to play.
The Lyons found themselves ahead by an 11-7 margin at the halftime, aided by Malenfant and six goals off the stick of first year midfielder Julia Bell (Longmeadow, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson). Western New England refused to go quietly as sophomore midfielder Jessica Scannapieco (Blue Bell, Pa./Wissahickon) tallied to cut the lead to 11-8 just 1:30 into the second half.
Mount Holyoke regained a five-goal advantage minutes later as junior captain Naomi Miller (Augusta, Maine/Cony) converted a pass from first year attack Catherine Ryan (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow) and senior attack Molly Macdonald (Milton, Mass./Milton Academy) scored unassisted with 21:25 on the clock.
It was a continuous back-and-forth until the 7:55 mark when Scannapieco fired in a feed from first year midfielder Tori Cirocco (Cramel, N.Y./Mahopac) to make it a 16-12 game. Cirocco took less than 15 seconds to make it a three-goal game with an unassited marker of her own and first year attack Brooke Kumnick (Granby, Conn./Granby Memorial) pulled it to 16-14 at 5:57.
Senior attack Christina Horimoto (San Jose, Calif./Leland) scored her second of the game with 4:24 on the clock, but Cirocco and Scannapieco started a comeback for the Golden Bears to make it a 17-16 game with 1:47 remaining in the game. Following a Mount Holyoke timeout, Western New England grabbed control off the draw and crashed the net, but Malenfant was up to the task with her two consecutive saves.
The Golden Bears continued to fight, but back-to-back yellow cards gave the Lyons the momentum over the final minute to seal the win and the program's first ECAC Championship title.
Western New England opened the game's scoring and led 3-1 through the first ten minutes of the contest, but a goal by Macdonald followed by back-to-back tallies from Bell gave the visitors a 4-3 lead. The Golden Bears bounced back to take a 5-4 lead, but Bell and Macdonald answered once again to regain the lead, which the Lyons would not relinquish over the remainder of the opening half.
For the contest, Bell recorded a game-best six goals while adding two assists. Macdonald added four goals, while Miller posted three tallies. Horimoto finished with two goals and two assists and Ryan added a goal and four assists. Her four helpers brought her season total to 47, which ties the all-time record for assists in a season set by Caitlin Taylor in 2006.
The Golden Bears were led by Scannapieco, who had five tallies in the game. Kumnick added four goals, while Cirocco chipped in with three markers. Junior Kelsey Sherman (Buchanan, N.Y./Hendrick Hudson) had a goal and three assists, while first year attack Taylor Scialdone (Yorktown Height, N.Y./Lakeland) recorded a game-best five assists.
Western New England held the advantage in shots (47-28), ground balls (25-21) and draw controls (23-12), while Mount Holyoke went 21 for 25 on the clear and 2 for 4 in extra-man opportunities.
NOTES: Macdonald finished the season with 65 goals, which ranks third all-time for markers in a season. She also posted 74 points on the season, a mark that is fifth all-time in a season. Bell's 85 points (58-27) this season ranks fourth all-time. Photos courtesy of Mount Holyoke Sports Information featuring ECAC Interim Commissioner Steve Bamford and Joe Sassi, Western New England Assistant Athletic Director.