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NU women's lacrosse looks to start win streak


An offensive explosion in the first period helped the Niagara Purple Eagles women's lacrosse team to a 13-10 Senior Day win over the Manhattan Jaspers on Saturday, April 8, moving the team into fourth place in the MAAC with a 2-1 conference record. The Purple Eagles will go for a second-straight conference win on the road Wednesday, as Niagara faces off against the Siena Saints (1-10, 0-3 MAAC) at 4 p.m. on April 12.

Niagara secured a 13-10 win over the Manhattan Jaspers on Senior Day last Saturday. Senior goalkeeper Andrea Francisco made a season-high 14 saves, including eight in the second period as Manhattan rallied late. Senior attack Hannah Vause scored the game's first goal off a feed from Samantha Brill, and senior defenders Kara Martin and Isabella Leon were integral parts of Niagara's defensive effort, as the Purple Eagles held the Jaspers to just four goals before halftime. Alexis Morales (four goals) and Grace Hunt (four assists) paced the Niagara attack in the win with four points apiece. Defensively, Alexandra Higgins had a game-high five ground balls, five draw controls, and three caused turnovers. Niagara used an 8-2 run to close the first period, including five consecutive goals in a stretch of 4:38, to seize control with an 11-4 lead at the half. Morales and Audrey Fithall each scored twice in the late run with Caroline Crump, Jillian Ford, MacCheyne, and Mackenzie Molodetz each scoring once. Manhattan outscored Niagara 6-2 in the second period, but the Purple Eagles' lead was large enough to secure the conference win on home field. Morales and MacCheyne each scored once after halftime, with Grace Hunt picking up her fourth assist of the game on Morales' tally 7:04 into the period.

Niagara currently sits at fourth place in the MAAC with five conference games to play. The Purple Eagles finished fourth in the conference in 2016 after earning five conference wins in a season for the first time in program history, going 5-3 in conference play (9-9 overall). Sophomores Rachel MacCheyne and Alexis Morales are tied for the team lead and rank third in the MAAC with 33 goals. MacCheyne has added eight assists for 41 points, with Morales contributing four for 37 points. Junior attack Grace Hunt has 28 assists in 12 games this season, adding nine goals for 37 points. Hunt's 28 assists are tied for the fourth-most in a season in program history, just 10 shy of the all-time record of 38 set by Sandra Gallegos in 2003. Her 2.33 assists per game this season would put her in a tie for fourth all-time in MAAC history. In the MAAC this season, MacCheyne is fourth with 3.42 points per game, while Morales and Hunt are tied for seventh at 3.08. Caroline Crump is fourth on Niagara in scoring with 25 points (14+11), as three of Niagara's four leading scorers are sophomores. Alexandra Higgins is the only player to rank in the MAAC's top three in ground balls per game (third, 3.17), draw controls (second, 5.42) and caused turnovers (third, 2.00), leading Niagara in all three categories.

Siena is 1-10 this season, with the Saints' lone win coming over Vermont, a 12-10 decision on March 1. The Purple Eagles hold an 11-9 edge in the all-time series with the Saints. Niagara will be looking to pick up its first road win over Siena since a 16-12 victory on March 29, 2009. Michelle Schwartz leads Siena with 29 points (21+8), with her eight assists a team-high as well. Freshman Alexis Deaken has a Saints-high 22 goals, adding four assists to rank second in scoring at 26 points. Deaken also leads the Saints with 21 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers, while Brianna Sirianni leads the team with 29 draw controls. In goal, Sammy Horton is 1-10 with a .392 save percentage and 16.11 goals-against average.