Late Goal Pushes Columbia Past Women's Lacrosse, 13-12

HAMDEN, Conn. - In the final regular season home game of the 2010 season, the Quinnipiac University women's lacrosse team fell to nonconference opponent Columbia, 13-12, Wednesday afternoon. A late goal by the Lions with under two minutes remaining in the game was the difference as the Bobcats had their eight-game winning streak snapped with the loss. Quinnipiac drops to 9-5 this season, but is 8-0 in Northeast Conference play as it heads into Saturday's game at Sacred Heart. The winner will claim the NEC Regular Season Championship as well as the No. 1 seed in the league's postseason tournament.

"I think that we played very well for the first 45 minutes of the game today, but unfortunately we made too many mental errors at the end of the game," Head Coach Danie Caro said. "I give Columbia a lot of credit because they were able to capitalize on our mistakes and they made plays in the end when it counted."

Junior Lauren Matuszczak (East Longmeadow, Mass.) scored a career-high four goals and posted a career-best five points in the game. Team captain Katie Latonick (Severna Park, Md.) scored once, while also adding three assists to bring her season total to national-best 39.

A back-and-forth first half saw junior Laura Iannotti (Rocky Point, N.Y.) score twice just over a minute apart midway through the period. Freshman Lianne Toomey (Hicksville, N.Y.) netted a goal and assisted on another from senior Lyndsey Banach, playing in the final regular season home game of her career.

Latonick's lone goal came with ten minutes remaining in the half to give her team the 7-4 lead. Two goals the rest of the period came from Columbia's Brittany Shannon and Olivia Mann to pull within one, 7-6, headed into halftime.

Matuszczak came out to start the second half scoring four of the first six goals for either team. Kacie Johnson netted the other two for the Lions as Matuszczak was the driving force behind the Quinnipiac offense over the first 14 minutes of the half. Latonick picked up two of her three assists during the stretch with Banach passing out another.

After Matuszczak's fourth goal of the game gave Quinnipiac the 11-8 lead, Columbia scored four unanswered tallies to take the lead, 12-8. Shannon and Taylor Gatinella each potted a pair in the run.

A free-position goal by Chelsea Guerrera (Wantagh, N.Y.) with 6:39 showing on the clock tied the game for the Bobcats. Over the course of the next five minutes, both teams turned the ball over, but neither team was able to capitalize on the other's miscues until 1:49 remaining when Columbia's Johnson scored her third goal. It proved to be the game winner as Quinnipiac failed to score in its final offensive possession, falling, 13-12.

Junior defender Kaitlyn Kelly (North Massapequa, N.Y.) dominated the draw controls, recording game-high six, while also picking up four ground balls and causing one turnover. Matuszczak collected four draws in the loss along with Latonick.

Lexi DeStefano (Brookfield, Conn.) posted her fifth game of eight or more saves this year and her second straight contest with nine. Karlee blank led the Lions to the win with eight saves in her 60 minutes of action.

"Despite getting some solid contributions from a few different players today, we didn't have anyone that stepped up and executed when it counted, and that was the difference in the game." Caro added.

The Bobcats will take on Sacred Heart Saturday at 7 p.m., in Fairfield with the NEC regular season title and the right to host the conference tournament on the line. Both teams enter the game with identical 8-0 records in NEC play. This will mark the first time in three seasons that the Bobcats and Pioneers will not share the championships after co-regular season titles in 2008 and 2009.