NIAGARA UNIV. -- The Niagara women's lacrosse team hosted the Fairfield Stags Saturday afternoon at Niagara Field in a rematch of a first-round matchup from the 2016 MAAC Championships. After a low-scoring first period, the two teams combined for 15 goals after halftime, but it was Fairfield that was able to hold on despite a late rally by Niagara, with the Stags coming out on top by a score of 14-10.
Both goalkeepers, Niagara's Andrea Francisco and Fairfield's Caleigh O'Connor, made a number of strong saves to make for a low-scoring start to the game. Francisco made two saves before the Stags' Alex Fehmel scored the game's first goal 7:09 into the first period. Francisco made two more saves in the next four minutes as Fairfield controlled the early possession. However, the Stags broke through with a pair of goals 28 seconds apart to make it 3-0 at the 18:30 mark. The senior netminder responded with a pair of denials on Fairfield free-position shots. Niagara's offense broke through with 7:45 left in the first period as Mackenzie Molodetz fought off the Fairfield defense to convert a free-position chance. Alexis Morales then set up Jillian Ford in front of the Fairfield goal to draw the Purple Eagles within one with 5:03 to halftime. The Stags rattled off a three goal run to take a 6-2 lead with nine seconds left, but Niagara won the ensuing draw and Samantha Brill found Morales up field for the buzzer-beating goal that picked the top corner, making it 6-3 at the half.
Both teams came out flying following the half, with five goals scored in the first three minutes of the second period. Fairfield outscored Niagara 3-2 in that stretch, with Caroline Crump and Rachel MacCheyne striking for the Purple Eagles. The Stags then shut out Niagara until the 16-minute mark of the second, scoring three times in that stretch to push the Fairfield advantage to 11-5. A 3-1 Niagara run made it a 12-8 game with 10 minutes to play. After Morales and Fairfield's Brooke Gallagher traded goals, Crump forced a turnover on a Fairfield clearing attempt and set up Grace Hunt for a goal before Ford set up Morales for her third goal of the afternoon. The Stags' Riley Hellstein cut into the Niagara run with a free-position goal, but Hunt picked up a pair of assists, setting up goals by Audrey Fithall and MacCheyne to bring Niagara within three, but that was as close as the Purple Eagles would get. A free-position goal from Fairfield with 4:20 to play was the final goal of the game, a 14-10 decision for Fairfield.