Monmouth takes crown from UMBC

Retrievers women fall, 14-9, after 3 NEC crowns in row

May 06, 2001|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - UMBC's three-year reign as Northeast Conference women's lacrosse champion is over.

The Retrievers, the only champion the NEC has known since lacrosse was instituted as a league sport in 1998, simply couldn't handle rising power Monmouth and fell in the championship game, 14-9, yesterday at Kessler Field.

UMBC had beaten Monmouth in the three previous NEC title contests - 12-11 in 1998; 15-9 in 1999, and 13-12 in 2000 - but ran out of firepower this time and simply couldn't handle Monmouth's Heather Bryan.

Bryan, a senior midfielder who was named the NEC's Player of the Year this season and last, used her speed and stickwork to bedevil the Retrievers' defenses. With six goals and an assist, she had a role in half her team's scoring.

"Maybe we came out flat, but we had our opportunities. We had our shots, and they just didn't fall," said UMBC coach Monica Yeakel, whose team finished 9-7. "Monmouth's a good team, and Bryan's a terrific player."

For the seven UMBC senior starters, the loss was particularly bitter. "I certainly didn't want it to end this way," said senior midfielder Renee Tirocchi. "After all we've gone through together, it would have been nice to keep on playing."

But instead of UMBC, which has been playing lacrosse since 1973 and has been totally dominant in its league, advancing into the 16-team NCAA Division I tournament - thanks to the automatic bid going to the NEC champion for the first time - it's relative newcomer Monmouth (11-7), whose lacrosse program began in 1994, that will play on.

UMBC aimed to reverse the 10-9 regular-season loss to Monmouth on April 7 - the first NEC game it had ever dropped - but Monmouth wouldn't let it happen.

A Bryan shot put Monmouth ahead in the game's first minute, and teammate Marisa McCormick snared a loose ball and rammed it in three minutes later.

UMBC rallied to 2-2 and 4-4 ties but never pulled ahead. Bryan had five of her goals by halftime with Monmouth up, 7-4.

The Hawks' lead went as big as 11-5 in the second half.

For Bryan, whose final goal came with 28 seconds left, it was an equalizing triumph."[UMBC] beat us in the last 20 seconds of last year's [championship] game and that really hurt," she said. "We didn't want to leave this one to the end, like last year. We didn't want to take any chances."

UMBC 4 5 - 9

Monmouth 7 7 - 14

Goals: UMBC-Pickett 2, Gerhart 2, Traber 2, Allen, Staines, Tirocchi; M-Bryan 6, Brown 3, Brooks, Cherill, Sydio, LaGrossa, R.Murphy. Assists: UMBC-Allen, Staines, Tirocchi, Milani; M-Bryan, C.Murphy. Saves: UMBC-Jagoda 14; M-Makris 12.

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