WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Rachel Foster scored her fifth goal of the game with one minute remaining to break a 13-all tie and help the University of Saint Joseph lacrosse team to an historic 14-13 win Saturday over Mount Ida in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference game.
The victory allowed St. Joseph (4-9 overall, 3-7 GNAC) to clinch eighth place in the GNAC and earn its first-ever appearance in the GNAC Tournament. Mount Ida finished 6-11 overall and 2-8 in the GNAC.
Foster had five goals and five assists and established a new single-season school record with 58 points (38 goals and another single-season record 20 assists). Dayna Gambino scored a game-high six goals giving her 40 for the season, which tied the record she set in 2012 and was tied last year by Erika Leitao (Southington, Conn.)
"Today was a milestone for the lacrosse program at USJ and I could not be more proud of these kids," University of St. Joseph coach Jim Herrera said. "They have done everything I've asked of them all season and for them to make the post-season on Senior Day makes it all the more special."
The Blue Jays honored their five seniors before the game: Francesca Mastria (Higganum, Conn.), Haley Tufano (Farmington, Conn.), Justine Mojsa (Newington, Conn.) who scored one goal, Leitao, who had two goals and an assist and goalkeeper Anne Pitoniak (West Haven, Conn.) who made 13 saves.
Amanda Bowen (Randolph, Verm.) scored four goals for Mount Ida. Rebecca Beaulieu (Weare, N.H.), Kaitlyn Affhauser (Cheshire, Mass.) and Molly Sheppard (Brookhaven, N.Y.) had two goals apiece for the Mustangs.
The game was tightly contested with eight ties and multi-goal leads rare. Mount Ida took the only two-goal lead of the first half at 5-3 after a goal from Sheppard with 9:05 to play on the way to a 6-5 advantage at halftime.
Foster, Mojsa and Gambino scored to stake the Blue Jays to an 8-6 lead early in the second half. The Mustangs came back to take their final lead of the day at 10-9 on a goal from Sheppard with 16:14 left. The Blue Jays then ran off four goals and Gambino's sixth of the day put USJ up 13-10 with 8:26 left. Mount Ida, however, had one last push and a score by Kailee Lutz (Foxboro, Mass.) tied the game at 13-all before with 1:12 remaining before Foster's decisive goal 12 seconds later.
In the final minute, Pitoniak made a save and Mastria picked up a huge ground ball with 32 seconds left and the Blue Jays retained possession until the final horn.
USJ plays top-seeded Emmanuel in the GNAC Tournament, Tue. April 22 at 7 p.m. at Roberto Clemente Field in Boston.