Maritime Upsets Merchant Marine In Skyline Semifinals

KINGS POINT, NY – Last season, the Maritime College women’s lacrosse team fell to Merchant Marine in the championship game of the Skyline Conference Tournament.  On Thursday night, the Privateers took on the Mariners again in the semifinals of this year’s event.  And this time, Maritime came out on top.  Jenna Lesiewicz (Wading River, NY) scored on a free position attempt with 15 seconds left to give the fifth-seeded Privateers (10-5) a 13-12 victory over the top-seeded Mariners (11-3) at Brooks Stadium.  With the win, Maritime advanced to its second consecutive Skyline Championship Game.

Merchant Marine had the ball will less than a minute left and took timeout to set up a final play.  The Privateers forced a turnover, however, and Lesiewicz was fouled inside the 8-meter arc with 15 seconds to go.  She connected for her fifth goal of the game, putting the Privateers in front, 13-12.  The Mariners controlled the ensuing draw, but were unable to get a shot off, as Maritime secured the upset and the 200th career win for Head Coach Kerri Handras.

Lesiewicz finished with eight points on five goals and three assists.  She went 3-for-3 on free position attempts while also notching six draw controls, four ground balls and three caused turnovers.  Gabrielle Nicolosi (West Islip, NY) had three goals and three assists, while Emily Commodore (Tinton Falls, NJ) and Morgan Tracy (Cambridge, MD) each scored twice.  Avery Jillson Neuwirth (Croton-On-Hudson, NY) contributed a goal and two assists, and Mary Cirelli (Oreland, PA) controlled four draws.  Tori Koenig (Roxbury, NJ) (10-5) was credited with eight saves in the winning effort.

After falling 20-4 when the teams met on April 13, the Privateers rattled off the first five goals of Thursday night’s game.  Lesiewicz put Maritime ahead 5-0 with a free position goal at the 2:15 mark of the first quarter before Leslie Wysong got Merchant Marine on the board with 1:26 remaining in the quarter.  Lesiewicz found the back of the net on another free position attempt 29 seconds into the second quarter, but the Mariners ended the period on a 4-1 spurt to pull within two, 7-5, at halftime.

The Mariners then notched the first three goals of the third quarter to take their first lead of the game, 8-7.  Tracy immediately responded for the Privateers before Reagan Jetter put Merchant Marine back in front 12 seconds later.  Maritime scored the final three goals of the quarter, though, to go back in front, 11-9.

It was once again a tie game, 11-11, midway through the third quarter when Nicolosi took a pass from Lesiewicz and sent it past Merchant Marine goalkeeper Karianna Eagle.  The Privateers held that one-goal advantage until Kaitlyn Latchaw put one home for the Mariners, leveling the score at 12-12 at the 2:53 mark.

For Merchant Marine, Grace Picozzi led the way with three goals.  She added seven draw controls and three ground balls.  Latchaw contributed two goals and three assists, and Jetter tallied four points on two goals and two assists.  In addition to notching two goals and an assist, Latchaw had four draw controls and three ground balls.  Nicole Stefanick, meanwhile, caused three turnovers.  Eagle (11-3) made three saves and picked up two ground balls.

On Saturday afternoon, the Privateers will go after their first-ever Skyline Conference title when they visit second-seeded Farmingdale (10-8), an 18-13 winner over St. Joseph’s LI in the other semifinal, at 2 p.m. in the Championship Game.  When the sides met on April 19, Maritime earned a thrilling 15-14 overtime victory.

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