NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's lacrosse team played with passion on Senior Day, but could not overcome a three-goal halftime deficit, falling to Rivier University (RU), 10-7, at Arute Field, on the campus of Central Connecticut State University Saturday.
The Raiders (2-7, 2-5 GNAC) have split their last four games, while the Blue Jays (2-8, 0-7 GNAC) have dropped three in a row. Junior attack Dzenana Omerovic (Revere, Mass.) led the Raiders with four goals. Freshman midfielder Jenna Banta (Montville, Conn.) scored a game-high five goals for USJ.
Prior to the first draw, USJ honored its two seniors for their hard work and dedication with a short ceremony. Seniors Annmarie Masayda (Watertown, Conn.) and Elizabeth Sears (Bristol, Conn.), teammates on both the swimming and lacrosse team, shared a moment with the team. There was certainly some extra fire in the eyes of the Blue Jays as they hit the field.
USJ scored the first two goals of the game (30 seconds apart), riding that wave of momentum. Banta and freshman attack Taya Valdez (East Lyme, Conn.) found the net, giving Saint Joe's a 2-0 lead with 26:26 left in the first half.
As the half went on though, the Raiders became more aggressive, drawing 15 first-half fouls on the Blue Jays, leading to five unanswered goals by four different players, including Omerovic. RU took a 5-2 lead at the half.
First-year head coach Andrew Fink gave the Blue Jays a productive halftime talk, as they came out and scored first once again. Valdez broke free to cut it to two, 5-3, with 28:50 left. It was here where the stars began to shine, as both Omerovic and Banta traded goals in a physical neck-and-neck match. Banta's team-leading 27th goal of the season came with 8:26 to go, and the Blue Jays were down just two, 8-6.
Rivier found a way to seal the deal down the stretch, scoring two more goals to prevent any miracle on the backs of Banta's shoulders, who scored her 28th goal minutes later. Despite winning in draw controls, 11-8, USJ had 23 more fouls than RU, and it ultimately cost them, as the Raiders walked off Arute Field with a tight 10-7 win.
The USJ women's lacrosse team will be back in action on Wednesday, April 10 when they host Johnson & Wales (RI) in another GNAC contest. The opening draw is set for 4:00 p.m. Rivier will play Elms (MA) on Monday, April 8 at 7:00 p.m.