COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College women's lacrosse team dominated the first and last ten minutes of Wednesday's home opener, but Rowan did just enough in between and used a late free-position goal to hold off the hard-charging Bears in an 11-10 thriller.
Sophomore Emily DiGiorgio turned in a monster afternoon with a career-high five goals and one assist, including the game-tying tally with 6:25 remaining, but Maddie Bray's sixth goal of the day – on a free-position shot with 4:48 remaining – proved to be the game-winner. The Profs saw a four-goal lead vanish in the second half and were nearly thwarted by a terrific performance from junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn France before Bray lifted the visitors to their fourth straight win in the series.
The Bears (0-3) kicked into high gear early, denting the scoreboard first on DiGiorgio's spinning score and doubling the advantage as freshman Grace Langen wheeled around the right side of the cage and buried the ball in the back of the net with the shot clock winding down.
DiGiorgio was heavily involved as Ursinus widened its lead to 4-1, first setting up a cutting Taylor DeBernardi before using the spin move to free herself for a high-to-low shot with 20:07 to play in the first half.
That was all the offense the Bears could muster for the rest of the period, and Rowan got two goals from Bray to level the affair at 4-all at halftime. Bray opened the second half with a free-position goal, which senior Franny Liberatoscioli answered just 24 seconds later.
Bray got on the board twice more during a run of four unanswered goals that put Rowan up 9-5 with 19:05 remaining. The Profs could have put the game away over the next several minutes, but France made several highlight-reel saves that took on added importance as Ursinus made a move down the stretch.
Despite being down a player due to a yellow card, the Bears started their comeback when junior Kaci McNeave fielded a pass from Langen and made a quick cut into a shot as the shot clock wound down. DiGiorgio used a slick one-on-one move at the left post to make it 9-7, but the Profs responded with 10:39 on the clock.
Then came three in a row for the Bears. Liberatoscioli barreled down the middle of the circle for a finish plus contact, and DiGiorgio took advantage of an empty net on a free-position shot after the Rowan goalie was whistled for a foul in a crease scrum. The junior then circled in from the left and sent a low shot past Profs goalie Erin Horner to make it 10-apiece with 6:25 to go.
Rowan won the ensuing draw and had two free-position chances, but France went low to make a save and the other rang the crossbar. Given a third opportunity, Bray made no mistake in netting the go-ahead goal.
France made two more huge stops in the closing minutes, giving Ursinus a final scoring chance with about 90 seconds to play. But DiGiorgio sent a shot high, and a turnover ended the Bears' hopes.
DiGiorgio's five goals gave her three hat tricks in as many games to start the season, and came on just eight shots. Liberatoscioli picked up four draws and four ground balls in addition to two goals, while Langen finished with a goal and an assist. McNeave and DeBernardi each scored their first markers of the year, and McNeave controlled five draws.
Freshman Hannah Reape posted three draws as the Bears held a slim advantage (12-11) in that area, but Rowan outshot Ursinus 37-21 and committed 13 turnovers to the home side's 21. The Profs racked up 12 free-position shots, scoring on three of them, while the Bears were 2-for-5 from the eight-meter circle.
France was sensational for much of the afternoon and finished with a career-high 13 saves.
The Bears resume their three-game homestand next Saturday against Susquehanna.