The Central Connecticut women's lacrosse team earned an 8-7 victory over Mount St. Mary's in its Northeast Conference opener on Friday afternoon. The Blue Devils (4-6, 1-0 NEC) were led offensively by sophomore Elyse Malecki's hat-trick and a pair of goals from senior Amanda Toke and sophomore Falynn McCartney.
The Blue Devils dominated the early minutes of both halves, building a 4-0 advantage in the first period and then a 7-3 lead in the second half.
On the opposite side, the Mountaineers (1-9, 0-1 NEC) made late runs in both periods, which set up a dramatic final minute of play.
After the Mountaineers cut the Blue Devil lead to 8-7 with 43 seconds remaining, the CCSU defense made a final stand to prevent the Mountaineers from tying the game. The Blue Devil defense forced Bridget McGann's final shot high and then pressured the Mountaineers into a turnover, which sealed the victory.
"This victory was the result of a great team effort," head coach Laura Campbell said after the game. "Everyone supported each other and had each other's backs all over the field. On top of that our leaders came up with big plays when we need them on offense, defense and in transition."
Offensively, the Blue Devils jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first half with goals by senior Meaghan McCurry, McCartney and a pair by Malecki.
CCSU's first goal came with 28:19 left in the half as Malecki scored off a pass from freshman Marissa Soto. McCurry followed with an unassisted goal with 18:44 on the clock and five minutes later McCartney added an unassisted goal. With 12:07 left in the period Malecki scored her second of the game to give the Blue Devils a 4-0 lead.
Mount followed CCSU's early run with three goals late in the period. The Mountaineers scored with 10:57, 9:58 and 7:37 left on the clock, with two of the three goals in the half coming on free position shots by McGann.
The Blue Devils scored just 16 seconds into the second half as Soto controlled the opening draw, which quickly lead to senior Claire Healy finding Toke for a goal.
CCSU scored again in the opening minute of the second half as McCartney scooped up a ground ball and scored an unassisted goal off of a Mount turnover.
Toke's second goal of the game, and Healy's second assist, came with 19:02 left to play as the Blue Devils increased their lead to 7-3.
Another free position goal by the Mount cut the CCSU lead to 7-4, but Malecki put the Blue Devils back up by four goals with 6:51 remaining. Malecki's goal was her third of the game and also proved to be the game winner. Soto was credited with the assist on the play.
Defensively, the Blue Devils were led by junior goalkeeper Morgan Tullar who recorded five saves and matched her season-low by limiting the Mountaineers to seven goals. Tullar also had three ground balls in the contest.
In addition to scoring two goals, Toke was credited with a team-high five caused turnovers and matched Tullar with a team-high three ground balls. She currently leads the Blue Devils with 21 goals and 30 points on the season.
Malecki's hat-trick give her three games with three or more goals this season, including seven goals in her last two contests. She is currently second on the team with 17 goals this season.
As a team the Blue Devils picked up 18 ground balls and caused 13 turnovers.
McCartney, Soto and sophomore Madison Hughes each shared a team-high with two draw controls in the contest.
With the victory the Blue Devils have now won their NEC opener in three straight seasons.
It is also the program's first ever win against Mount St. Mary's.
The Blue Devils will continue NEC action on Sunday at Wagner. That contest is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. start on Staten Island and can be seen live on NECFrontRow.com.