Danes in control for eighth win in a row

Control the draws, and you can control the game. University at Albany’s women’s lacrosse team did bo

Control the draws, and you can control the game.

University at Albany’s women’s lacrosse team did both Saturday in a convincing 24-3 America East Conference victory over Binghamton at John Fallon Field.

Winning their opening two conference games for the first time since they joined the league in 2002, and extending their school-record winning streak to eight games, the 8-1 Great Danes found the net on 11 of their first 13 shots en route to an 18-1 first-half lead. They never looked back, outshooting the Bearcats, 39-13, and making life miserable for three different Binghamton goalkeepers.

Guilderland High School grad­uate Nikki Branchini, a junior midfielder, set the tone for the Danes by winning 14 draws. Overall, the Danes won 22 of the 29 draws, helping them to control the time of possession and the flow of the game.

“We work on winning the draws all the time in practice,” said Branchini. “A lot of it is timing. You also need to have quickness, so you can react as soon as you hear the referee’s whistle.

“Draw controls are important and help with time of possession,” said Branchini, who scored once and assisted on two more goals. “It’s about reacting to the whistle, getting low, boxing out and placing the ball to your teammates. You are not always going to get it [the draw] yourself.”

“We kept moving the ball and executing our plays,” said senior Christine Grueniger, who scored five times, just like she did against Niagara as a freshman. “Our goal is to win the first 10 minutes of each half. Winning is fun.”

Grueniger, who entered the game as the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 16 goals and seven assists, collected all of her goals in the first half. Melanie Sosnowski, a sophomore attacker who entered the game as the team’s third-leading scorer with 19 goals and four assists, also scored five times for the Danes.

“Coach kind of sets a limit to how many goals you’re going to score in a game like this,” said Grueniger. “After a while, all we wanted to do was to keep possession of the ball and work it around. Our goal is to get off to a good start, and we did that in the first 10 minutes. This is very exciting, winning our first two conference games. I’ve been playing on this team for four years, and we’ve never got off to this kind of start. Being 2-0 in league play is great. I think we’ve been lucky with our schedule, so far.”

Grueniger said UAlbany’s offense is so deep that the Danes never know who their leading scorer is going to be.

“We have a lot of different players who can score on this team. It’s also nice that we have so much confidence in our goalie, Ashley Ross.”

Ross, who gave way to freshman backup Kim Santorv with just over 11 minutes left, was credited with four saves. Santorv had two. Ross allowed two of the Bearcats’ three goals, but one was on a free-pos­ition play after an Albany penalty.

UAlbany head coach Lindsey Hart couldn’t come up with many negatives after the one-sided triumph.

“Wait until Monday’s practice, and maybe I’ll find something,” she said. “Today, we played very well in all aspects of the game, and we were very disciplined. When you don’t have to worry about defense that much, you can put a lot of shots on goal. This was the kind of game where everyone got to play quality minutes.

“Sometimes, in a game like this, it’s hard to maintain your focus. We tried to make sure we had no letdowns.”

The Danes next play Stony Brook in another conference game Wednesday at home.

“Stony Brook has been playing a little inconsistently this year, but we can’t take any game for granted,” Hart said. “Our conference is wide open, and every conference game is important.”

Julie Bush and Olivia Jarem scored three goals each for the Danes. Taylor Frink chipped in with two goals and four assists. Mel Rorie and Guilderland’s Kayla Best scored two goals apiece.

Binghamton, which was coming off a hard-fought 15-8 loss to defending Patriot League champion Colgate and recently took conference power Boston University to the limit in an 11-8 setback, dropped to 0-2 and 0-8.

Binghamton  1 2 —  3

UAlbany 18 6 — 24

Binghamton scoring: Ali Castiglie 2-0, Beth Moore 1-1. UAlbany scoring: Christine Grueniger 5-0, Melanie Sosnowski 5-0, Ol­ivia Jarem 3-2, Julie Bush 3-1, Taylor Frink 2-4, Mel Rorie 2-1, Kayla Best 2-0, Nikki Branchini 1-2, Rachael Burek 1-1.

Goalies: Binghamton, Lauren Scott 0 saves, Erin O’Donnell, 5 saves, Emily Miller, 1 save; UAlbany, Ashley Ross, 4 saves, Kim Santorv, 2 saves.

Categories: College Sports


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