WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. The Quinnipiac University women's lacrosse team clinched a share of the Northeast Conference Regular-Season Championship with a 7-4 victory against Monmouth. Senior captain Ashley Valentine (Friendship, Md.) scored two goals in the game as the Bobcats end the season on eight-game win streak to finish with a 7-1 NEC record and 12-2 overall. The 7-1 mark clinches a tie for the regular-season title with Sacred Heart for the second-straight year and gives the Bobcats the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.
"Today was a really exciting game dominated by a defensive battle between the two teams," said Head Coach Danie Caro. "The team stayed extremely focused from start to finish and our senior class put together a tremendous effort to get the win this afternoon."
Monmouth jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring both goals in the first seven minutes of the game. Senior Nicole Fiore (Monroe, Conn.) scored her 100th career goal just over 11 minutes in to pull her team to within one, 2-1. Tiffany Manzi (Agawam, Mass.) tied the game at two a minute and a half later, beating Hawks' goalkeeper Monica Johnson for the equalizer.
After Megan Brennan gave Monmouth the 3-2 lead, junior Kelly Bruneau (Cheshire, Conn.) scored her second goal of the season to tie the game with 3:39 remaining in the first half. Valentine's goal with just over two minutes to play gave the Bobcats their first lead of the contest as the senior netted her 38th goal of the season on a feed from Bruneau inside the eight-meter arc.
Marissa Caroleo (North Babylon, N.Y.) scored with a minute and a half remaining in the first and Valentine netted her second of the game with five seconds showing on the clock as the Bobcats led 6-3 at halftime. Senior goalkeeper Hannah Nelson (Glastonbury, Conn.) stopped five shots in the first 30 minutes of play, while allowing just the three goals.
Both teams tightened defensively in the second half. Katie Latonick (Severna Park, Md.) scored the period's first goal more than 17 minutes in. Monmouth's Rachel Feirstein tallied the Hawks only goal of the final 30 minutes of play as the Bobcats held on for the victory, 7-4.
Five members of the Bobcats had multiple points in the game with Valentine the only player to score twice. Manzi, Caroleo, Latonick and Bruneau all had a goal and an assist each. Valentine also finished with a game-high three caused turnovers, while matching Manzi with a game-high four ground balls. Nelson finished with eight saves in the game, while Johnson stopped just five shots in earning the loss.
Quinnipiac returns to action on Friday, April 24 in the second game of the NEC Tournament semifinals. The Bobcats will take on No. 3 Mount St. Mary's at Sacred Heart's Campus Field. Quinnipiac defeated the Mountaineers in last year's semifinals, 12-11, and won this season's matchup, 19-5, on April 5 in Hamden.