FAIRFIELD, C.T. (NEWS10) – Siena women’s lacrosse has found itself in similar postseason situations over the past few seasons; A long layoff heading into the postseason, a battle against a formidable opponent; playoff action in Southern Connecticut.
The Saints were once again faced with those circumstances on Friday, and used a dominant second half performance to earn another shot at the MAAC heavyweights and the first title in program history.
Entering the 2023 MAAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship as the No. 2 seed, Siena (12-6) triumphed over No. 3 Niagara (12-7), 13-10, at Rafferty Stadium in Fairfield, Connecticut to earn its third trip to the MAAC Championship Game in the last five years.
Having dropped a narrow 13-12 decision to the Purple Eagles on the road back on April 19 to end the regular season, the Saints withstood what was a back-and-forth affair in the first half to position itself for victory.
After senior Amanda Nieman and junior Rebecca Gilhooley opened the back with goals, Niagara embarked on a four-goal run to end the opening quarter, with the final strike coming with nine seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
Fifth year attack Mary Soures struck to open the second quarter, but Niagara quickly answered to pull back out to a two-goal lead at 5-3. Despite strong play in-goal from Sabrina Krasner, Siena was left searching for answers midway through the second quarter, but filtered it’s offensive play through a rising star to keep within reaching distance.
The team’s top point scorer during the regular season, Sophomore Kelly Logue picked the biggest game of the season thus far for her defining performance. The Rocky Point, New York product found the back of the net for the first time with 8:46 remaining in the first half, and did so once more three minutes later with a Niagara goal in-between. The teams exchanged woman-up goals to end the first half, with Niagara owning a 7-6 advantage at the intermission.
Under the direction of sixth-year head coach Abigail Rehfuss, the Saints had found themselves in a tough postseason position many times before, and adjusted like seasoned veterans entering the second half. Siena embarked on a momentum-turning 6-1 run in the third quarter, with Logue leading the charge with a third quarter hat trick to go with scores from Jordan Bentley and Grace Dobrzynski. Niagara finally ended a 14-minute scoring drought to conclude the period, but the Saints entered the final 15 minutes with a 12-8 lead.
The Purple Eagles netted a pair of quick goals to open the fourth quarter and quickly trimmed the Siena advantage to two with 11:48 remaining in the game. The back-and-forth cold war that ensued included multiple stops by each team – including on free position attempts – but ultimately saw Siena hold the advantage as the clock ticked down. Niagara’s final two offensive chances faltered inside the last three-and-a-half minutes of play, and Logue added an exclamation point with 11 seconds left to end the day with a career-high six goals.
Siena held a 30-25 shots advantage and triumphed despite losing the draw control battle, 14-11. Aside from Logue’s performance, Bentley finished with five points on the day, while Dobrzynski added three. Krasner recorded her ninth double-digit save performance with 11 stops.
Now back in the MAAC Championship Game for the second time in three years, Siena will look to finally overcome four-time defending MAAC champion Fairfield on its home field, with opening draw set for Sunday, May 7 at Noon at Rafferty Stadium.