WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Westfield State built a big first half lead, but had to hang on down the stretch and run out the final minute on the clock to preserve a 17-16 win over Worcester State in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference women's lacrosse semifinals at Alumni Field on Thursday night.
Westfield State improves to 14-4 with the win, and the top seeded Owls advance to host #2 seed Bridgewater State in the conference championship game, which will be played on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Westfield.
The Owls opened up the game with three quick goals from Blair Smith, Roni Orcutt and Sydney Lambert in the first 2:25 of the contest, but Worcester State answered, a theme that would be oft-repeated throughout the night with back-to-back markers from sophomore midfielder Alexis Vecchiarelli to cut the lead to 3-2.
Westfield built the lead to 9-3 on an unassisted tally from Hunter Zackaricz with 9:33 left in the first period, but then the two clubs traded a pair of goals and Westfield held an 11-5 lead at the intermission.
The Owls got the lead to as many as seven goals, when Lambert scored off a feed from Orcutt less than a minute into the second half for a 12-5 lead, but the Lancers reacted with a three-goal spurt of their own, on two from Veccharelli and one from Alaina Martin to cut the lead to 12-8 and stay within striking distance.
From there, the Lancers chipped away at the lead, dominating the draw controls in the second half, and peppering the Owls cage with 25 shots in the second half off of good ball movement.
Westfield held a 17-13 lead after Orcutt's free position goal with 7:12 to play, but that would be the Owls' last goal of the night. Finally, Worcester struck for three goals in a span of 1:21, with Mackenzie Little netting the final two, first off Angelina Sutherland's feed from behind the goal, then scoring on a free position shot with 1:27 left in regulation to cut the lead to 17-16.
Worcester won the ensuing draw, but the Owls' Alexa Tonelli forced a turnover and Westfield managed to keep the ball in the attacking end for the final span to preserve the victory.
Orcutt, Lambert and Samantha Coyle each scored three goals for Westfield. The Owls got 16 saves from senior goalkeeper Mimi Khampaeng.
Fourth-seeded Worcester State completes its season with a 9-10 overall record. The Lancers were led by four goals from Vecchiarelli and three apiece from Little, Martin and Kaila Chase. Krissy Pessa made seven saves in goal.
Release Courtesy of Westfield State Sports Information