STEUBENVILLE – The 2017 AMCC Showcase title game was nothing short of dramatic as the Franciscan women's lacrosse team staved off a feisty Hilbert squad for an exciting 17-16 win, Sunday afternoon.
Leading 17-15 with just over three minutes to play, it was up to the tenacious Franciscan defense to keep the game close. Led by senior captains Christine Rice and Catherine Cahill, the Lady Baron defense stayed tight with the Hawk attack and made them really work for every shot. Sophomore Brittany Bain stuff another point blank shot that ricocheted back in the field and Emily Gawlak picked up the ground ball for Hilbert. Rice caused her fourth turnover of the game and picked up the ground ball to start the Franciscan clear with 1:30 to play. The clear failed, unfortunately, and the Hawks were back on the attack. After two shots missed the goal, one off the post and another high, Gawlak found the back of the net with 27 left on the clock to get the Hawks to within one, 17-16.
As head coach Maura Conant put it after the game, "lacrosse is a game of possessions and we really needed the draw after that last goal but our defense was able to play hard and keep Hilbert away from the goal."
Hilbert called a timeout following Gawlak's goal to set up the offense should the Hawks win the draw. The Hawks did win the draw but the Lady Baron defense kept the Hawks from getting their offense set and did not allow a shot in the final 27 seconds for the thrilling 17-16 victory.
Franciscan raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first three minutes of action, seemingly taking control of the game early. Senior Maryanna Leonard took a quick pass from sophomore Carly McDonald to score the first goal of the game just 21 seconds into action. Sophomore Elizabeth McEntee won the next draw and took it to the cage herself for the second score of the game just 35 seconds later. Hilbert won the next draw but junior Mary Krolicki forced a turnover and Elizabeth Dawyot picked up the ground ball for a successful clear. Krolicki eventually got the ball back and fed it to McDonald for the goal. Franciscan led 3-0 just 4:11 into the game.
Crystle Marion scored back-to-back goals for the Hawks to make it a one- goal game with 24:22 to play in the first. 16 seconds after Marion's second goal, McEntee scored as she won the draw and sprinted straight to goal, out running all of the Hawk defenders. After an uncharacteristic scoring drought for the game, Dawyot scored her first of the game to push the Lady Baron lead t0 5-2 with 12:40 to play.
The Hawks sandwiched a pair of goals around McEntee's second to stay within two, 6-4, but with exactly seven minute to play Dawyot scored her second of the game to push the FUS lead to 7-4. After another Hilbert goal three minutes later, Franciscan closed out the half on a 2-1 run thanks to a pair of goals from Dawyot to take a 9-6 lead into halftime.
Less than a minute into action, Krolicki gave the Lady Barons their largest lead of the game as the Hawks were unable to complete a clear in front of their net and Krolicki found the back of the net.
The Hawks then went on a 3-0 run to get within one goal with 22:52 to play. McDonald and senior Anne Foster led Franciscan on a 2-1 run to take back a two-goal lead, but the advantage would be short lived as Hilbert scored three straight goals to take its first lead of the game, 13-12. That lead also did not last long but kicked off a dramatic final 10 minutes of the game. Dawyot tied the game 13-13 off an assist from McEntee. Gawlak won the next draw for Hilbert and immediately went to the net and scored to take the lead back for the Hawks. McDonald and McEntee scored two goals each over the next 5:29 to give Franciscan a 17-14 lead before three-straight goals from Hilbert set up the dramatic finish.
Sophomore Brittany Bain was incredible in goal, stopping 13 shots while Rice led the team with five ground balls and four caused turnovers. Sophomore defender Elizabeth Jordan was her feroucious self on defense with four caused turnovers and four ground balls.
McEntee won six draws for Franciscan while leading the team with five goals and two assists. Dawyot chipped in five goals and an assist while McDonald had four goals and an assist. Leonard, Foster, and Krolicki each had a goal while Krolicki handed out two assists.
With the victory, Franciscan was crowned the 2017 AMCC Women's Lacrosse Showcase champions as the conference sponsored the showcase tournament for the first time ever this year. Franciscan earned the top seed in the tournament after going 2-1 in the AMCC this year.
Franciscan wraps up the season 9-7 after its most successful campaign in program history. "I am just so proud fo what this team has accomplished this year," continued Coach Conant following the game. "We set out to win this tournament this year and we did it. We have come a very long way in our five years as a program."