Albany Sets Tone Early, Cruises Past UNH to First America East Final Since '07
from press release
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Jodi Battaglia and Ariana Parker each scored five goals to power UAlbany to an 18-7 victory over New Hampshire in the America East Conference Tournament's semifinal round on Thursday, May 5 at John Fallon Field. The Great Danes advanced to Saturday's championship and will meet UMBC, a 12-11 overtime winner against Boston University.
Albany (16-0) reversed an early 1-0 deficit by scoring nine consecutive times. Ariana Parker put her team in front by converting a bounce shot in a free-position situation. Battaglia tallied two of her team's next three goals, each off a feed from Taylor Frink. Amanda Pollock, who had a career-high four goals, all in the opening period, ended that outburst when Jess Antelmi caused a turnover that led to an offensive possession.
New Hampshire (8-9) came back with a pair of goals. Amber Casiano connected on a free-position shot, before Hayley Rausch moved from behind the cage to score from the left side. The Great Danes, who are the tournament's top seed after winning the regular-season crown, responded with the final five goals of the period to take a 14-3 lead to the locker room. Pollock, a junior midfielder, scored twice in that stretch, including a transition play where defender Jenn Primeau caused a turnover and drove the ball from her own end.
The Great Danes, who advanced to the championship for just the second time in the program's history, scored twice in the opening four minutes of the second half. Battaglia, who recorded her 21st career hat trick, found the net with a free-position opportunity. Frink, who scored a pair and tied a tournament-record with five assists, faked and scored from left of the crease.
"We set the tone right away," said Battaglia, whose team had lost their previous three meetings with New Hampshire in conference postseason play. "We pushed the pedal and there was no backing down."
Rausch, who earlier this season netted an overtime shot to defeat Boston U., led the Wildcats with three goals, including her 26th of the season. Albany's Parker, a freshman midfielder, added one assist to her five-goal offensive output. The Great Danes, who are the lone unbeaten team at the NCAA Division I level, are ranked No. 8 in the IWLCA poll and are No. 5 by deBeer/Inside Lacrosse.
"We had a great start," said Pollock, whose team lost in the America East semifinals one year ago after running the table in the regular season. "Coach [Battaglino] expects the best from us. We had [losing last year] in the back of our heads, and it is an awful feeling."
In the second semifinal, UMBC came from four down midway through the second half to draw even in regulation on goals by Lindsay Cox and Amanda Pappas. The Retrievers tallied 20 seconds into the extra period as Emily Coady circled from behind the cage and scored from right of the crease.
Albany advanced to the America East Conference championship game for the first time since 2007 ... the Great Danes are the tournament's No. 1 seed for the second consecutive year ... All-America Nikki Branchini broke her own single-season record for draw controls (82) and is third nationally in that category at 5.13 per game ... Jodi Battaglia has 46 goals, the fifth-best single-season total in UAlbany annals ... Ariana Parker's 41 goals is the second-best mark by a freshman ... Tewaaraton Award nominee Taylor Frink scored seven or more points for the sixth time this season ... Frink needs two assists to break the program's career record, held by Andrea Esposito who had 79 from 2000-03 ... Amanda Pollock also scored four goals on two occasions against Vermont, including April 6, 2011.
#8/5 Albany 18, New Hampshire 7
New Hampshire - Scoring: Hayley Rausch 3-0,
Amber Casiano 1-0, Jenny Simpson 1-0, JoJo Curro 1-0, Kate Keagins
1-0; Goalkeeper(s): Kate Gunts (60:00, 3 saves, 18 GA).
Albany - Scoring: Ariana Parker 5-1, Jodi Battaglia 5-0, Amanda Pollock 4-0, Taylor Frink 2-5, Rachael Burek 1-0, Allie Phelan 1-0, Persy Sample 0-1, Jenn Primeau 0-1; Goalkeeper(s): Anna Berman (56:43, 4 saves, 6 GA), Brett Yenger (3:17, 0 saves, 1 GA).