RINDGE, N.H. (April 15, 2017) – With nothing but three stern tests on the remaining schedule, the Franklin Pierce University women's lacrosse team played host to Bentley in a pivotal Northeast-10 Conference contest at Sodexo Field on Tuesday night. In what was a defensive struggle at times, particularly in the first half, the Ravens would never lead. Bentley used a three-goal surge in the first period to take a lead it would never relinquish, while seniors Ellie Shuman (3-1-4) and Hannah Lindgren (3-0-3) scored thrice each to lead the Falcons to a 10-8 victory.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 7-5 (5-5 NE10), while Bentley improves to 6-7 (5-5 NE10).
With three games to play, Franklin Pierce and Bentley are among a three-way tie for third in the NE10, as Assumption also sits at 5-5 in the league. Technically, the Ravens are in eighth position, as they lost their head-to-head meetings with both the Falcons and the Greyhounds, which serves as the tiebreaker. With eight teams qualifying for the Conference Championship, Franklin Pierce currently holds a one-game lead over Southern New Hampshire and Saint Anselm, which both own 4-6 NE10 records. The biggest problem for the Ravens is their final three games are against three of the league's top four teams.
The two teams alternated the opening four goals of the contest on Tuesday night in Rindge. Bentley senior attack Ciara Morley set up junior midfielder Kathleen Gillespie to open the scoring just 49 seconds in, but junior midfielder Briana Sweeney (Shirley, N.Y.) had the answer for the Ravens at the 2:38 mark. Shuman put Bentley back out front 9:31 into the frame, before junior midfielder Caitlin Sweeney (Shirley, N.Y.) answered this time, making it 2-2 with 16:12 remaining before halftime.
From there, things slowed way down, as only three more goals were scored over the remainder of the stanza, with Bentley striking for all three. Lindgren had the first two of the trio, as she put away her 23rd and 24th of the season with 15:48 and 9:34 left in the half, respectively. Sophomore defender MaryKate Staines capped the first-half scoring with 3:58 to play, as she put away a free-position shot to make it a 5-2 game.
The Falcons seemed to have an answer for everything Franklin Pierce threw their way in the second half. The Ravens used back-to-back goals from freshman attack Morgan Riley (Jamesville, N.Y.) and Briana Sweeney to close the gap to two goals, at 7-5, with 18:10 to play, but Bentley freshman midfielder Emma Smith struck on a free-position with 17:15 to go to make it 8-5. A free-position goal from Caitlin Sweeney made it 8-6 with 11:41 to go, but Shuman completed her hat trick with 6:42 to go to make it 9-6. A Briana Sweeney goal with 6:29 left made it 9-7, but Morley put the final nail in things with 2:13 remaining, finishing a feed from Shuman to make it 10-7. Caitlin Sweeney cashed in a free-position chance with just 18 seconds to play to create the 10-8 final.
Franklin Pierce had its best chance to break the cycle and close within a goal after the Caitlin Sweeney free-position goal which made it 8-6 with 11:41 to play. Just over four minutes later, with 7:38 on the clock, Briana Sweeney was awarded a free-position attempt of her own. Her shot cleanly beat Bentley senior goalkeeper Lauren Ochs, but rang off the left post and bounded away harmlessly as the deficit remained two goals.
The Sweeney twins carried the load offensively for the Ravens, as Briana had three goals and an assist, while Caitlin scored three goals and attempted 14 shots, and no other Franklin Pierce player tallied more than one point. Caitlin Sweeney collected six draw controls, while senior defender Leana Richards (Queensbury, N.Y.) caused a pair of turnovers and picked up two ground balls.
After Shuman and Lindgren for Bentley, Morley (1-1-2) was the only other multiple-point scorer. Gillespie corralled four draw controls on the night.
Senior goalkeeper Denise Hunt (Hull, Mass.) made 12 saves against 22 shots on goal and suffered the loss (7-5) in net for Franklin Pierce. Ochs (5-7) finished with 10 saves against 18 shots to pick up the win for Bentley.
The Ravens return to the field on Saturday, April 22, when they remain home to host Pace in an NE10 contest. Game time is set for 4 p.m. at Sodexo Field.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce lacrosse apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).