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Niagara women's lacrosse secures postseason berth with win over Monmouth


NIAGARA UNIV. -- The Niagara women's lacrosse team picked up its third straight victory Saturday afternoon at Niagara Field, holding the Monmouth Hawks to just two goals in the first 30 minutes en route to a 13-8 win. With the win, the Purple Eagles clinched a spot in the MAAC Women's Lacrosse Championship for a third consecutive season, marking the sixth postseason berth in program history.

Rachel MacCheyne scored a career-high seven points on five goals and two assists, while Caroline Crump (2+1), Jillian Ford (3+0), and Grace Hunt (2+1) all scored three points. Defensively, Alexandra Higgins collected five ground balls, five draw controls, and five caused turnovers, and Andrea Francisco picked up her seventh win of the season with nine saves in goal, including six during a shutout stretch of over 17 minutes to open the game.

With a postseason berth secured, Niagara can guarantee home field for the first round of the MAAC Championship and lock up a top-four seed in the conference with a win over Marist in the team's regular season home finale at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19.

The Purple Eagles got on the board with two early goals. Caroline Crump broke in on goal and opened the scoring 44 seconds into the contest, and Rachel MacCheyne doubled the lead with a free-position tally just over three minutes later. Niagara's defense locked down against the Hawks, holding the visitors scoreless through the opening 17 minutes before a goal from Monmouth's Kate Ryan made it 2-1 with 12:46 left until the half. Andrea Francisco made six saves before allowing her first goal of the day. Over the final 10:17 of the first half, Niagara closed out with a 5-1 run to lead 7-2 after 30 minutes of play. MacCheyne and Jillian Ford each scored twice in the late run, with Crump picking up another tally as well as an assist. MacCheyne tacked on her second free-position tally to open the second half 55 seconds in, with Ford adding another free-position strike at the 25:30 mark. After two goals from the Hawks, the Purple Eagles responded with a pair of their own as Alexis Morales scored her 35th of the season before MacCheyne fed Grace Hunt for her first goal of the day.
Monmouth drew within four goals late, scoring a trio of free-position tallies less than four minutes apart to make it 11-7. The Hawks would only find the back of the net once more, with Hunt and MacCheyne adding late free-position tallies to lock up the 13-8 victory for the Purple Eagles.

Niagara will play its annual Pink Game in the home finale against Marist next Wednesday to support breast cancer research. Fans can join the team in this endeavor by purchasing t-shirts for $15 at the game and any day week in the lower level of the Gallagher Center.