A second half rally fell just short as the #2 seed Central Connecticut women's lacrosse team fell to the #3 Bryant Bulldogs by a score of 11-10 on Friday afternoon. The Blue Devils (9-9, 7-2 NEC) and Bulldogs (10-7, 6-3 NEC) were both appearing in the Northeast Conference playoffs for the first time. Sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Tullar posted a game-high 13 saves in the loss.
Trailing 7-5 at the start of the second half the Blue Devils opened up the scoring with a goal by junior Amanda Toke on a free position shot five minutes and 50 seconds into the period. Just minutes later junior Claire Healy tied the game at 7-7 with her second goal of the day. Healy's tying score was the result of a great defensive play by junior Cierra Ward. Ward got a tremendous jump and broke up a Bryant pass and then scooped up the loose ball to start the CCSU possession.
Bryant was able to recapture the lead just a minute later on a Katherine Keckeisen goal, but CCSU responded with three straight scores to take a 10-8 lead.
Unfortunately, Bryant was able to score three times and hold the Blue Devils off the scoreboard over the final 10 minutes of the game.
In the first half, after falling behind 2-0, the Blue Devils got on the board with a goal by freshman Madison Hughes.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the Bulldogs scored three straight goals over the ensuing eight minutes to take a 5-1 lead.
Following Bryant's three straight goals, CCSU rattled off three consecutive score to make it a 5-4 game. Freshman Falynn McCartney found senior Betsy Vendel for a goal with 9:05 left in the half. Senior Mackenzy Ryan followed with an unassisted goal with 7:49 left in the half. Just a minute later Healy scored on a free position shot.
Bryant scored twice more, but CCSU was able to land the final goal of the half on an unassisted score from McCartney.
Healy led the Blue Devils with three points in the game, two goals and one assist. McCartney also had three points she registered a goal and two assists.
Vendel and Toke contributed all over the field for the Blue Devils. Vendel posted a goal, a ground balls and six draw controls. Toke scored a pair of goals and picked up three ground balls and three draw controls.
Senior Ali Roche led the defense with four ground balls and two caused turnovers. Ward also had a strong game for the CCSU defense.
Tullar was solid in goal for CCSU she stopped 13 of the 24 shots on her goal, while also picking up a ground ball and a caused turnover.
Ryan's goal gave her 23 for the season and increased her season point total to 40. She finishes third all time with 110 goals and 151 career points.
Vendel's goal was number 120 for her career and she finishes second all-time in that category. Vendel's school records for points (219), assists (99) and draw controls (180) are now set.
Senior Caitlin Karner, Ryan, Vendel and Roche finish their careers with numerous records, including 28 victories, which is by far the most in any four-year stretch for the CCSU lacrosse program.
The 2013 team finishes the season with school records for wins (9), NEC wins (7) and longest winning streak (8). They are also the first CCSU lacrosse team to reach the NEC Tournament.
Bryant advances to face Monmouth in Sunday's NEC Championship.