NIAGARA UNIV. -- The Niagara Purple Eagles women's lacrosse team fought closely with the Marist Red Foxes in a low-scoring battle Wednesday afternoon at Niagara Field. Both goalkeepers, Niagara's Andrea Francisco and Marist's Abigail Witczak, made a number of terrific saves in goal, but it was Witczak's Red Foxes that came out with the 9-7 victory.
After Marist controlled the opening draw, Lauren Mazza broke in on goal and gave the Red Foxes a 1-0 lead 14 seconds into the contest. Niagara would respond just over two minutes later with a free-position goal from Alexis Morales to level the score. Niagara put nine shots on goal in the first 30 minutes, but was unable to put another one past Marist goalkeeper Abigail Witczak following Morales' goal. Marist took a 2-1 lead on a free-position tally before the Red Foxes' Natalie Bonaroti struck twice in a span of 1:10. Marist took that 4-1 lead into the half as Witczak made eight saves in the opening period for the Red Foxes, while Niagara's Andrea Francisco made seven stops on 11 shots on goal. The early momentum out of halftime went to Marist, as the Red Foxes picked up goals from Hailey Wagner and Audrey Cerrone to extend their lead to 6-1. Niagara then scored three consecutive goals to cut the deficit to two. Caroline Crump started the run with a long shot from just inside the 8-meter line that beat Witczak to the far side. Rachel MacCheyne tallied her first of the game at the 22:43 mark, and Niagara's Lauren Paul won the ensuing draw before Crump scored her second of the afternoon, making it a 6-4 game. After a pair of Marist goals, the Purple Eagles struck back with two more of their own in a 16-second span. Grace Hunt set up Jillian Ford for her 20th goal of the season, and Niagara won another draw before MacCheyne found Hailey D'Hont in transition to get Niagara back within two. Marist scored its ninth goal of the afternoon off a deflection in front of Francisco with three minutes to play to make it 9-6. MacCheyne picked up her second goal of the day to draw back within two. Ford had a chance to make it a one-goal game with a free-position shot with 33 seconds to go, but Witczak made the save as Marist closed out a 9-7 win.
The Purple Eagles play their final two games of the 2017 regular season on the road, starting on Sunday with a 12 p.m. contest against the Quinnipiac Bobcats.