SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University women's lacrosse team puts its three-game winning streak and perfect Northeast Conference start on the line, traveling to western Pennsylvania for a weekend set against Saint Francis U. and Robert Morris.
The Bulldogs (7-4, 3-0 NEC) take on the Red Flash (6-6, 1-2) Friday at 3 p.m. and play the Colonials (9-4, 3-0) Sunday at 12 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live on NECFrontRow.com.
SCOUTING THE RED FLASH
The Bulldogs have faced off against Saint Francis U. in every season since elevating to the Division I level. Bryant is a perfect 8-0 in those outings and has only faced a final margin of less than five twice. But this season, the Red Flash have found success behind key veteran leaders and enter the weekend ranked at the top of the league with 13.00 goals per game. Senior midfielder Holly Lawrence leads the way on the team and in the league, entering the weekend with 40 goals to average 3.33 per game and rank 11th in the nation. Of those 40 scores, 19 have been free position goals, of which she averages the second-most per game in Division I. Lawrence also paces the side with 42 draw controls.
Classmate Jessica Mazzur has also been dynamic for the Red Flash, tallying 13 goals and a team-leading 11 assists out of the midfield while also helping run defensive play with team highs in ground balls (42) and caused turnovers (19). Junior Sarah Mahon can't be left out of the conversation, either, as the junior has 33 scores and 41 points in 2017, adding 11 caused turnovers and 16 ground balls.
Between the pipes, SFU has relied on senior Heather McKee, who has posted a 13.13 goals against average with 88 saves and a .389 save percentage. As a unit, the Red Flash also lead the NEC in draw controls per game, shot percentage, and free position percentage, and average a league-low 17.5 turnovers per outing.
SCOUTING THE COLONIALS
Defense is the name of the game for Robert Morris, as the Colonials rank second and third in the nation in caused turnovers per game (15.69) and ground balls per game (25.00), respectively. Leading that charge are Megan Wolfgang (35 CT, 42 GB), Dana Davis (28, 48) and Annie Sachs (24, 37), who all rank in the NCAA's top 50 in both categories.
Katelyn Miller anchors the defense between the pipes, where she ranks 19th nationally and second in the league behind Bryant junior Samantha Santeramo (Wantagh, N.Y.) with a 9.39 goals against average. She boasts a .483 save percentage and averages 8.54 saves per game.
Offensively, the Colonials – who are tied with the Bulldogs atop the league standings entering the weekend slate – are paced by the standout rookie Sachs, who has 35 goals and 52 points already this season. Other 20-goal scorers include Maggie Stella (25), Davis (24) and Mackenzie Gandy (20), who is tied with Sachs with 17 assists.
Sunday's game marks the ninth between the Bulldogs and the Colonials, and the series is deadlocked at 4-4. Last season, Robert Morris put an end to a four-game series winning streak for the Black and Gold, edging out the Bulldogs, 10-7, in Smithfield. Bryant is 2-1 against the Colonials in Moon Township.
The play of Santeramo inside the crease has been the story of the season for the Black and Gold, as the junior has the team ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense. Bryant allows just 8.09 goals per game behind Santeramo and her veteran D-unit, anchored by seniors Carly Cronin (Feeding Hills, Mass.) and Molly Martin (Island Park, N.Y.). Santeramo leads the league and boasts top-10 national numbers in goals against average (7.61, 5th) and save percentage (.536, 6th), while Martin boasts two top-50 rankings for ground balls per game (3.09, 23rd) and caused turnovers per game (1.73, 48th).
Offensively, the underclassmen have driven Bryant's success, bolstered by the stellar play of senior Ali Cardinal (Schenectady, N.Y.) and junior Catlin Brown (San Diego, Calif.). Sophomores and freshmen represent four of the team's top five scorers, led by second-year Bulldog Jess DeMeo (Mount Sinai, N.Y.) and her 29 tallies (6a). Reigning NEC Rookie of the Week Caitlin Breglia (Long Beach, N.Y.) ranks second with 22 goals and 10 helpers, followed by Brown (15g, 10a), rookie Leah Nocera (14g, 4a) and sophomore Lauren Britton (11g, 2a).
Brown and Cronin lead the team with 20 draw controls each, while Martin is the only player with double-digit caused turnovers (19).