CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's lacrosse team clinched its first-ever New England Collegiate Conference title and a berth into the NCAA Tournament with a 15-9 win over Wheelock College in the league championship game on Saturday afternoon at Leary Field.
The Blazers (10-8) stormed out to a 6-0 lead in the first 11 minutes of play to take control of the game. Vanessa Vurno (Salem, Conn.) scored three of those first six goals and assisted on another one to help set the tone. The Wildcats (9-6) bounced back with back-to-back goals just 10 seconds apart, at the 16:56 and 16:46 marks to cut the lead to 6-2, but Elms extended the lead to 8-3 by halftime.
Wheelock got within four on two occasions in the second half, at 10-6 and 11-7, but Elms responded with three consecutive goals to build a 14-7 lead and put the game away.
Vurno followed her six-goal, seven-assist performance in Thursday's semifinal with six goals and three assists on Saturday en route to Tournament MVP honors. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Jackie Soucia (Belchertown, Mass.) and Haley Richard (Monson, Mass). Richard had three goals and four assists for Elms on Saturday while winning six draw controls and scooping up three ground balls. Soucia had five draw controls in the game and added an assist. Alecia Keesee scored four goals for Elms.
The Wildcats were led by Georgia Schindele (Sparkill, N.Y.) who scored three goals and added one assist. Colleen Macdonald (Sandwich, Mass.) added two goals and a helper for Wheelock.
Elms goalkeeper Emily Huber (Jefferson, Maine) came up with eight huge saves to keep the Blazers in control. Wheelock keeper Erin Sior (Shrewsbury, Mass.) finished with 11 saves but faced 26 shots on goal in the game.
The Blazers will learn their NCAA Tournament fate during the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Selection Show which airs live at 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 6 and can be streamed at NCAA.com.
NECC All-Tournament Team
Megan Mackie – Bay Path
Megan McKena – Bay Path
Alex Safford – Southern Vermont
Stephany Ferreira – Southern Vermont
Ashley Eppolito – Wheelock
Georgia Schindele – Wheelock
Katie Frade – Wheelock
Jackie Soucia – Elms
Haley Richard – Elms
MVP: Vanessa Vurno - Elms