MANSFIELD, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University defense forced its second-most turnovers of the season and never trailed in posting its first home win, 16-11, over Fitchburg State University in a non-conference women's lacrosse match Thursday evening at Rick McCarthy Field.
A winner of two straight after losing its first ten, Eastern defeated Fitchburg (2-9) for the fourth straight season in this four-game series.
Playing without its No. 1 goalie and No. 1 goal-scorer, Eastern turned to sophomore Olivia Donahue (Avon) in goal and protected her by forcing 27 turnovers and outshooting the Falcons, 37-27. Making her first career start and first appearance in net this year, Donahue made six saves, and seven different players contributed a goal or assist
Eastern never had to play catchup but blew an early 6-2 lead as the Falcons ran off four straight goals in just over five minutes late in the first half to forge their only tie, 7-7, on the first of junior Tracy Long's four goals with 3:09 left in the first half. The Warriors responded soon after to take over the momentum for good, however, getting two goals from junior Madison Renaud (Somers) and two from freshman Gabby Abramczyk (Bristol) to move out to an 11-7 lead seven minutes into the second half.
Renaud and Abramczyk scored less than a minute apart to push Eastern into a 9-7 halftime lead, and Abramczyk and Renaud opened the second half with strikes 1:20 apart early in the second half to give Eastern its 11-7 lead.
With only one goal this year entering play, Abramczyk led the Warriors with four, sophomore Sydney Hogan (Northford) chipping in three goals and three assists, Renaud three goals and an assist and junior Tristan Kijak (Windsor) three goals to complement a strong defensive game.
In addition to three goals, Kijak collected five of the team's nine caused turnovers, picked up seven ground balls and captured five draws. Freshman Aiyana Ward (Waterbury), Abramczyk and Kijak combined for all of the Warriors' 19 draws.
Ward won eight draws (to go along with two goals and an assist), and Abramczyk six. Sophomore Zoe Robert (North Stonington) recorded her first career goal on her second shot with 2:06 left. Making her sixth career appearance in goal, Donahue was credited with her first career win.
At right: Tristan Kijak (Photo by Erin Winsor '20)
Long and senior Sarah Mallahan led Fitchburg with four goals each, Long chipping in an assist and senior Sarah Napolitano (Peabody, MA) had two goals and three assists, giving her 13 goals and 13 assists in only six matches this year. Long and senior Jessica Hall won three draws each and junior Dominique Finlay and junior Rebecca Fisher matched senior goalie Marguerite Belcher with four ground balls. Fisher caused four turnovers and junior Nicole Kopacz three.
Belcher made ten saves.
Eastern hosts Castleton University Saturday at noon in a Little East Conference match.