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UAlbany Women Defeat Dartmouth In 1st Round of NCAA Tournament

Courtesy UAlbany Athletics

The first NCAA Tournament appearance was one to remember for the UAlbany Women’s Lacrosse team.

The Great Danes rallied to down Dartmouth, 10-7, in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jodi Battaglia and Persy Sample keyed a second-half run as the unbeaten Great Danes advanced to meet second-seeded Northwestern in the NCAA quarterfinals on May 21 at 8:00 pm.

Dartmouth erased a 5-4 deficit in the final period with consecutive goals.  Hana Bowers curled from the left to the middle and sent a blast over the goalkeeper’s head to tie the contest.  After Kristen Giovanniello made a save leading to an offensive possession, the Big Green went ahead as Sarah Parks found Hilary Smith in the middle of the zone with 17:03 remaining.

UAlbany (18-0) regained the lead with three straight goals over a four-minute stretch.  Nikki Branchini, who moved up to offense from her defensive midfielder position, sent a free-position attempt into the right side of the cage to start the decisive run.  Sample, a freshman attacker, curled from the left and fired a low shot into the far right corner.  Battaglia then made a full-extended catch of Sample’s feed from behind to find the net and record an 8-6 advantage.

The Great Danes, who entered NCAA play as the only undefeated team at the Division I level, padded their margin in the final minutes. Jess Antelmi forced a turnover that led to an offensive possession where Allie Phelan drove from the right from a spread attack to beat the goalie low to the left side.  Taylor Frink added an empty-net goal for a 10-6 cushion after Dartmouth received a yellow card during a defensive double-team.

UAlbany goalkeeper Anna Berman matched a career-high with nine saves. Sample tied a career-best point total with one goal and two assists.

Paw Prints:  The Great Danes are the 17th team to enter the NCAA Tournament play undefeated or untied.  UAlbany made its first NCAA appearance since the women’s lacrosse became a varsity sport in 1992.  Jodi Battaglia set the program’s single-season record for goals (54), breaking a mark previously held by Rafaela Nikas, who scored 51 in 1998.  Persy Sample’s matched her career-high points total (1 goal, 2 assists) Taylor Frink is the school’s career assists leader with 82. UAlbany has had three programs record NCAA Division I Tournament wins, including men’s lacrosse and softball in 2007.

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