SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Sophomore Jess DeMeo (Mount Sinai, N.Y.) scored five goals to lead the Bryant University women's lacrosse team to a 16-6 victory over Wagner Sunday, as the Bulldogs claimed their fourth-straight NEC Regular-Season title and completed their second undefeated conference slate in program history.
The Bulldogs (11-4, 7-0 NEC) will host the next week's NEC Tournament as the league's top seed for the fourth-straight year and will take on fourth-seeded Sacred Heart Friday in one of two semifinal matchups.
The Bulldogs never trailed in a rematch of last year's NEC Tournament Championship game, with DeMeo breaking a 1-1 tie 10 minutes into the game with the first of four-straight unassisted tallies that drove the lead to 5-1.
Wagner (6-11, 4-3) leading scorer Marjorie Dehm (4 goals) scored the visitors' final goal of the opening frame with 9:50 on the clock off a free position opportunity, and the Black and Gold would rattle off four more tallies from four different scorers to take a 9-2 advantage into the halftime break.
A nearly hour-long weather delay gave both teams an extended stay in the locker room between halves, but the Bulldogs would continue to pour it on once play resumed. Off the opening draw, senior midfielder Shannon Sullivan (Farmingdale, N.Y.) went straight to goal, netting her second of the day just 12 seconds into the second frame.
The tally extended Bryant's streak to five uninterrupted goals, and DeMeo would cap that run at six with her third two minutes later for an 11-2 advantage.
Dehm would get the Seahawks back on the board with back-to-back scores 10 minutes into the second, but the Black and Gold would respond with three of their own – a free position shot from junior Catlin Brown (San Diego, Calif.) and consecutive scores from DeMeo – for a 14-4 margin entering the final 10 minutes of regulation.
The teams would trade goals through the final minutes, but the 10-goal margin would remain at the final whistle, with the Bulldogs on top, 16-6.
Senior Ali Cardinal (Schenectady, N.Y.) scored two goals and added an assist for the home side, while classmate Emily Columbus (East Northport, N.Y.) also chipped in a score. Rookie Caitlin Breglia (Long Beach, N.Y.) picked up her seventh hat trick of the year, while sophomores Jasmine Perkins (West Babylon, N.Y.) and Lauren Britton (Monmouth Beach, N.Y) rounded out Bryant's scorers. Breglia has recorded hat tricks in three-straight games and five of the last six.
Wagner got just single tallies from Anna Belle Reilly and Lauren Ednie to assist a four-goal effort from Dehm. A pair of Seahawk goalies combined for nine saves on the day, while Bulldog junior Samantha Santeramo (Wantagh, N.Y.) made eight stops for the win.
The Bulldogs more than doubled-up the Seahawks on shots, 34-16, and won the draw control margin, 14-10, behind a game-high four from senior defender Carly Cronin (Feeding Hills, Mass.). The Bulldogs were perfect on the clear for the second-straight contest (21-21) and held the visitors to just a 15-of-24 mark. The Seahawks edged the Bulldogs in ground balls, 19-17, behind five from first-half goalie Kelsey Fee.
Wagner caused 15 of the Bulldogs' 18 turnovers, while Bryant caused 10 behind three from senior defender Molly Martin (Island Park, N.Y.). Martin now owns sole possession of the program's Division I record after Sunday's performance (103).
Friday's NEC Semifinal matchups will pit the Bulldogs against fourth-seeded Sacred Heart (6-10, 4-3) while #2 Robert Morris (11-6, 5-2) will take on #3 Wagner. Times for Friday's games will be announced this week.