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February 12, 2014

Bulldogs take OT thriller on last-second Sniffen tally in 2014 season opener

WORCESTER, Mass. – In the final minute of overtime, senior midfielder Kimberley Sniffen (Redding, Conn.) forced a turnover deep in Holy Cross's defensive end, picked up the ground ball and deposited it beyond the reach of netminder Sarah Weber with 12.1 seconds left to play, vaulting the Bulldogs to a 8-7 victory over the Crusaders Wednesday night in the 2014 season opener.

Sniffen's stick-check forced turnover came just seconds after senior goalie Brianna Watt (Babylon, N.Y.) stood strong to keep the Crusaders (0-1) off the board, coming up with a big one-on-one save on a Tess MacKay shot with just over a minute remaining in the first overtime. The tally was Sniffen's second goal and fourth point of the day, as the Bulldogs (1-0) topped Holy Cross in nearly every offensive statistic.

Senior attack Haley Bloom (Hauppauge, N.Y.) also tallied a pair of scores in the opener, adding an assist of her own for three points. Sophomores Lauren Descalzo (Hauppauge, N.Y.) and Morgan LaBarbera (New Fairfield, Conn.) and senior Lisa Vendel (Sandy Hook, Conn.) all picked up their first scores of the season, while senior Olivia McCarthy (Sea Girt, N.J.) added a goal and a helper in the overtime victory.

On the day, Bryant capitalized on three Holy Cross yellow cards during regulation, tallying three goals with an extra player, but the Crusaders would score the game-tying goal with 3:41 left in regulation. Holy Cross would win a jump ball from just outside its own restraining line with 49.1 seconds left in regular play, but neither team would find the net again before the final whistle.

The Crusaders were paced by two scores apiece from Kaitlin Concilio and Sara Hennessey, with the latter chipping in an assist for a team-best three points.

Holy Cross got on the board first with a goal from Concilio less than four minutes into the contest, and the sophomore doubled the host's lead within the opening 10 minutes.

Bloom responded for the Black and Gold, finding the back of the net for the first tally of the 2014 season at the 17:32 mark. Descalzo took a pass from Sniffen to tie the score at 2-2 halfway through the frame, and Bryant made it a three-goal run with 5:30 left in the half. Bloom forced a Holy Cross turnover and turned the ground ball into a perfect dish off to LaBarbera, who tucked a shot into the left side for Bryant's first advantage of the day, 3-2.

Holy Cross saw the final two tallies of the frame, however, with Hennessey netting a free-position goal with 1:45 left in the half and Maddie Ward swatting in a loose-ball goal inside the final 60 seconds.

Sophia Agostinelli and Hennessey picked up yellow cards in consecutive plays following Bryant's win on the ensuing draw, and while the Black and Gold couldn't capitalize on the two-player advantage in the final 30 seconds, the visitors would start the second against a short-handed opponent.

And that advantage would pay off twice to give Bryant back the lead less than two minutes into the second. Bloom would get back on the board first 59 seconds into the stanza off a pass from McCarthy, but McCarthy wouldn't be satisfied, hammering home a goal of her own just 40 seconds later, assisted by Sniffen. Both goals came with numbers.

Hennessey connected with Laura Ryan to knot the score again at 5-5 with 24 minutes showing in the frame, and the pair would reverse the process 30 seconds later to put the home side back on top, 6-5.

Hennessey would take herself out of the game just more than midway through the second half, however, picking up her second yellow card of the day. Vendel made the Crusaders pay on the man-advantage for the third time in the contest, tying the game at 6-6.

Sniffen put Bryant back on top, 7-6, with a free position tally with 8:31 to go in the contest, but Kate Martino would tie it for the sixth and final time with 3:41 left, forcing extra time.

On the day, the Bulldogs outshot the Crusaders, 30-17, and edged their hosts in draw controls, 10-9. Sniffen paced the game in the category with four on the day. Holy Cross won the ground ball battle, 24-16, but had 22 turnovers to Bryant's 17. Between the pipes, Weber made eight stops for the hosts, with Watt making five in the victory.

The Bulldogs return to action Feb. 18, when they travel to Loudonville, N.Y., for a 3 p.m. faceoff against Siena.

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