TOWSON, Md. – A three-goal run to end the night and a game-winning tally by Stephanie Asher earned Elon University women’s lacrosse its first conference tournament victory in a 10-9 overtime win over No. 17 Towson Friday, May 5, at Johnny Unitas Stadium in the CAA Tournament Semifinals.
The win moved the Phoenix into the CAA Championship game on Sunday, May 7, at 1 p.m. Elon will go up against top-seeded James Madison, who defeated fourth-seeded Delaware 11-10 in overtime earlier Friday evening.
On the year, Elon now stands at 13-5 while Towson fell to 12-6. Elon’s victory marks the first in five tries against the Tigers and avenges a 19-7 loss during the regular season at Unitas Stadium back on April 9. The 13 wins this year extends the program record, which was set last month after breaking last year’s previous record of 10 wins.
Asher led the Phoenix with four goals on the night. Two of her goals came down the stretch as Elon mounted its comeback, scoring with 8:42 left to bring the Phoenix within one at 9-8 before tallying the winner in overtime. Melissa Birdsell and Nicole Sinacori both added two goals in the triumph with Sinacori throwing in two assists. Shannon Horan and Abby Godfrey each scored once with Horan’s goal tying the game late in the second half. In the cage, Rachel Ramirez made nine saves, including two in overtime that helped keep the Phoenix alive.
Emily Gillingham paced Towson with three goals while Natalie Sulamonte added two goals and two assists. Carly Tellekamp added two goals with Samantha Brookhart and Jenna Kerr scoring once apiece. Brookhart did tally five assists in the game, setting a new Towson and CAA single-season record for most in a campaign with 52 on the year. Benson made 12 saves in the cage.
Elon and Towson went back and forth to open the night with the Tigers scoring first before Asher and Godfrey tallied just over a minute apart to give the Phoenix a 2-1 lead less than seven minutes in. Though Towson scored two of the game’s next three goals to take a 4-3 advantage with 12:35 left, Sinacori, Asher and Birdsell put together a 3-0 run that gave Elon a 6-3 lead heading into halftime.
Out of the break, Towson put together a two-goal run to bring it to a one-goal deficit at 6-5. Sinacori answered with her second goal of the game to push Elon’s advantage back to 7-5, but the Tigers went on a 4-0 run to push the second-half start to 6-1 in taking a 9-7 lead with 9:55 to play.
Looking to mount its comeback, Asher netted her 56th goal of the year with 8:42 left to cut the Tiger lead to one at 9-8. Coming from behind the cage, Asher never got her feet past the goal line before firing her shot from a tough angle past Benson. The junior then setup Horan’s game-tying goal with 3:20 to play when she picked up a loose ball and fed to Horan as she sat on the turf. Horan took the spot-on pass and cruised toward the cage for the goal.
In overtime, both goalies came up with big saves on both ends to keep their respective teams in the game. Elon won the opening draw in OT and Horan fired a shot ticketed for the top left corner, but Benson’s stick cut it off just in time. On the other end, Ramirez stopped a shot from point-blank range that set Elon up with a second possession with less than a minute left in the first overtime session, but Elon couldn’t cash in with Benson making another save.
With Elon winning the draw again to start the second overtime session, Sinacori got the ball behind the goal line and fed to Asher who didn’t miss with her 57th goal of the season to send the Phoenix to the title game for the first time in program history.
– Elon lost both of its previous two conference tournament games it took part in, falling to Detroit 15-11 in the Atlantic Sun Tournament in 2014 before losing to Towson in 2016 by the score of 9-7.
– With 57 goals, Stephanie Asher is two goals off a tie for 10th-most goals in a season in CAA history. She would tie JMU’s Annie Wagner and Kelly Berger and George Mason’s Jill Toomey, who scored 59 goals in a season in both 2002 and 2003.
– The Phoenix is 0-3 all-time against its CAA Finals opponent, James Madison. It lost by two last season at home but fell 14-5 back on April 7 in its CAA opener in Harrisonburg, Va.
– With the overtime win, Elon improved to 3-0 all-time in overtime games. Last year it beat Delaware 5-4 in overtime before topping No. 19 Virginia Tech 13-12 in Blacksburg, Va., earlier this year on March 1.