April 20, 2013
For the fourth straight year Siena Women's Lacrosse will play in the MAAC Championships. Siena's freshman class accounted for nine goals led by a career-high five tallies from Lauren Smith as the Saints locked up the No. 4 seed with a 12-10 win at Iona.
Siena (3-11, 2-3), which had qualified for the MAAC Championships just once in its first 13 seasons prior to this run, will face either Canisius or Marist in the semifinal round on May 3rd in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Siena qualifies for the conference tournament with their win coupled with Manhattan's loss to Niagara.
Even if the Saints lose to the Purple Eagles next Saturday in Loudonville forcing a three-way tie between Siena, Niagara and Iona (4-12, 2-4) at 2-4 in the MAAC, the Saints still would get in. In that scenario, the three teams would have all gone 1-1 against each other this season, but Siena would win on the second tiebreaker having posted the only win over a top-three team in the league in Fairfield.
Entering the day ranking last in the MAAC averaging just 7.5 goals, Siena's offense came up big early. The Saints scored three goals in the first four minutes and never trailed.
Smith scored all five of her goals in the first 23 minutes as Siena ultimately took an 8-6 lead at the half. Smith had totaled just 10 goals in her first 12 collegiate games.
Iona stuck around in the second half but could never get any closer than two goals. The Gaels entered the game controlling their own destiny as they would have captured a MAAC Tournament berth and eliminated Siena outright with a win.
Smith wasn't the only Siena freshman to come up huge though. Classmate Sarah Croutier, who leads the Saints in scoring, added four points including a hat trick and Ashley Ruchalski netted the game-winning goal. Defensively, Ashley Holdridge made six of her seven saves in the second half as Siena beat Iona for the fourth straight time.
Siena again controlled the draw, holding a 15-9 advantage. Sophomore Julia Sirianni, who leads the MAAC in draw controls, won eight more as the Saints snapped a nine-game road losing streak.
Nina Veneziale led Iona with four goals, while Mary Kate McCormick and Meghan Testoni added two apiece for the Gaels who were without the MAAC's leading goal scorer Kylie Gregory.
Siena now looks to build momentum when they host Niagara Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Siena Turf Field on Senior Day. Prior to the game the Saints will honor their four senior captains in a special Senior Day ceremony.