SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With the 2017 Northeast Conference Tournament Championship and NCAA tournament berth on the line, the top-seeded Bryant University women's lacrosse team will host three-seed Wagner College in a 1 p.m. title bout at the Track & Turf Complex Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs (12-4) earned their spot in the NEC Championship with a 17-10 win over fourth-seeded Sacred Heart Friday afternoon, while the Seahawks (7-11) upset second-seeded Robert Morris, 12-10, in the NEC Semifinals.
Sunday's contest marks Bryant's fifth-straight NEC Championship game appearance, and the Bulldogs will be looking for their third title in the last four years.
Just seven days ago, these two teams faced off in the regular-season finale, a game the Black and Gold won handily, 16-6, behind five goals from NEC Offensive Player of the Year Jess DeMeo (Mount Sinai, N.Y.) and three more from All-NEC First Team rookie Caitlin Breglia (Long Beach, N.Y.).
But these sides have a history in the NEC title game, having now squared off for the league's automatic berth for four-straight seasons. The Bulldogs, who have earned the right to host the NEC Tournament since 2014, won back-to-back titles in 2014 (13-7) and 2015 (15-10) over the Seahawks, before Wagner upset the hosts last season with an 11-7 victory in Smithfield.
In the all-time series, the Bulldogs own an 8-4 advantage, coming away with the victory in seven of the last eight meetings. But three of those four losses have come at the Track & Turf Complex, where Bryant is just 4-3 against the Seahawks.
DeMeo has been a formidable opponent for any defender over the past two years, and that is clear in her career numbers. The 2017 NEC Offensive Player of the Year and 2016 NEC Rookie of the Year sits just one point shy of 100 career points and would be the fastest player to hit the mark in the program's Division I history should she register at least one point on Sunday. DeMeo enters the game with 85 goals and 14 assists.
LEAVING HER MARK
Senior defender Molly Martin (Island Park, N.Y.) played in her program-record 72nd career game in Friday's NEC Semifinal. The senior is also the program's Division I leader in caused turnovers (108) and ranks eighth all-time in career ground balls (146). This season, the two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year has 43 ground balls and 31 caused turnovers, each just one off her career single-season mark.
TUNE IN LIVE
Fans can watch Sunday's NEC Championship live and free-of-charge at NECFrontRow.com and can follow along on twitter with @bryantgameday and @necwlax. Live stats are available at bryantbulldogs.com.