BOSTON -- The Elms College women's lacrosse team completed an undefeated New England Collegiate Conference campaign with a 17-14 victory at Wheelock to deal the Wildcats their first NECC loss and clinch the top seed in next week's NECC Tournament.
Elms (8-8, 7-0 NECC) trailed 8-7 early in the second half but rattled of three consecutive goals, including free position goals from Haley Richard (Monson, Mass.) and Vanessa Vurno (Salem, Conn.) sandwiched around a score from Alecia Keesee (Westfield, Mass.).
Wheelock (8-5, 6-1 NECC) tied the game at 10-10 and 11-11, but after Jackie Soucia (Belchertown, Mass.) and Kaila Abrams (Derry, N.H.) scored 29 seconds the Blazers clung to the lead for the final 18 minutes. The Wildcats pulled within one at 15-14 with 13:11 to play off a goal from Alexah Mellis (East Longmeadow, Mass.), but Elms netted the final two goals of the game and kept Wheelock off the board the rest of the way to secure the win.
Richard led the Blazers with six goals and an assist in the game. She also finished with a team-best seven draw controls. Keesee added four goals for Elms and Soucia and Vurno each had three goals.
Georgia Schindele (Sparkill, N.Y.) and Ashley Eppolito (Nashua, N.H.) each scored four goals for the Wildcats while Colleen Macdonald (Sandwich, Mass.) added three.
Elms goalkeeper Emily Huber (Jefferson, Maine) came up with 11 saves after facing 25 shots on goal in the win. Counterpart Erin Sior (Shrewsbury, Mass.) stopped 13 of Elms' 30 shots on goal.
The Blazers and Wildcats have each secured a bye into the NECC semifinals next Thursday, May 3, and will host the winners of Tuesday's opening round games. The highest seeded remaining team after Thursday's semifinals will host the NECC championship game on May 5.