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LITTLE THREE CHAMPS! Wesleyan Defeats Amherst in NESCAC Thriller, 11-10

Photo Courtesy of David Andonian.
Photo Courtesy of David Andonian.

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Sydney Prokupek scored the game-winning goal just seconds into overtime as the ninth-ranked Wesleyan women's lacrosse team won the Little Three Championship outright with a thrilling 11-10 win over No. 11 Amherst Wednesday night. In addition to the Little Three title, junior Abby Manning also reached another milestone as she became the fourth player in program history to score 100 career goals. 

Wednesday's contest featured a game of runs as the Cardinals prevailed in the end, improving to 9-1 overall and 4-1 in NESCAC play. Prokupek led Wesleyan with four points (2g, 2a), while Becky Kendall and Isabelle Sennett each recorded two goals and one assist for the Mammoths, who dropped to 6-3 and 2-3.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Amherst came out hot to start the game and scored the first four goals within the first 15 minutes of play. Kendall led the stretch with two goals and one assist.
  • Wesleyan responded with a 4-0 run of its own. The Cardinals scored their first goal of the game at the 15-minute mark as Manning notched her 100th career goal. 
  • After nearly six minutes of scoreless play, Johanna Copeland received a pass from Prokupek and rifled a sideways shot to the top left corner.
  • Prokupek cut the deficit to one at the 7:41 mark off an assist from Abigail Horst, and Horst tied the game just under a minute later.
  • Wesleyan held Amherst scoreless for 10 minutes until Hannah Fox swung a low shot into the top right off a free position.
  • Manning tied the game at 5-5 at the 3:05 mark with a highlight reel score as she spun through two defenders and found the bottom right corner.
  • With time running down, Copeland dashed to the right and rifled a shot into the bottom left with just 12 seconds to go in the half as Wesleyan took its first lead, heading into halftime with a 6-5 advantage.
  • The Cardinals controlled the game early in the second half with Copeland starting things off with a goal just 1:08 into play.
  • After an Amherst score by Fox a minute later, Wesleyan responded with three unanswered goals to take a 10-6 lead with 13:16 remaining. Wood scored the first two goals of the run to increase the lead to three, and Horst scored 40 seconds later to cap off a 10-2 stretch going back to the first half.
  • However, Amherst didn't back down. With 10:51 remaining in regulation and two seconds left on the shot clock, Hannah Gustafson found the back of the net on a free position attempt. 
  • Just over two minutes later, with the shot clock winding down again, Sennett received a pass from Claire Dunbar and rifled a low sidearm shot between the posts.
  • The Mammoths scored two more goals over the next three minutes as Dunbar's score on a free position attempt capped off a 4-0 run by the visitors, tying the game at 10-10 with 5:39 to play.
  • With just over a minute to play, Wesleyan goalkeeper Allegra Grant made an excellent save for the Cardinals, in which they regained possession and held on for the final shot, that ended up going high above the crossbar.
  • Amherst held Wesleyan scoreless for the final 13 minutes of play and had the momentum entering overtime, but the Cardinals won the opening draw and scored just 41 seconds later to claim the Little Three title.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • The stats were nearly identical across the board, with both teams perfect on clear attempts and Wesleyan holding a slight 24-20 edge in shots. Amherst, however, went 3-4 on free position shots and were 2-2 in the second half.
  • Copeland led the Cardinals with three goals, while Horst, Manning, Prokupek, and Caitlin Wood each scored twice. Horst and Wood recorded an assist apiece as well, and Caroline Sgaglione led the defense with four caused turnovers and four ground balls. Additionally, Breanna Cavanaugh caused three turnovers and Grant made seven saves in net.
  • In addition to Kendall and Sennett's three points, Amherst also received three points from Dunbar (1g, 2a) and two goals apiece from Fox and Gustafson. Defensively, Kate Burns and Kelly Siebert totaled three caused turnovers each and goalkeeper Talia Land made five impressive saves in net to keep Amherst in the game.  

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • Wesleyan has now won two Little Three titles outright in the past three seasons.   
  • The Cardinals are 9-1 through 10 games, which is their best start in program history. 
  • With two more points Wednesday, Manning now has 123 for her career, which is tied for sixth-most all-time. 

UP NEXT:

  • The Cardinals are back in action on Saturday, April 6 and will play at No. 6 Tufts. The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.