RICHMOND, Va. – The Spiders tore off on an unanswered, seven-goal run to close out the first half and open the second and would lead by no less than four for the entirety of the second half as the third-seeded Saint Joseph's women's lacrosse squad suffered a 19-12 loss to second-seeded Richmond in the 2018 Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals at Robins Stadium on Friday afternoon. The Hawks close their season at 12-7 overall, setting the new program record for single-season victories. The Spiders (15-3) advance to face top-seeded UMass in Sunday's title game.
"This was a tough loss, but our team played with heart and fought hard today," said head coach Alex Kahoe. "I'm so proud of this team and our seniors. These seniors have helped us take the program to where it is today and set a standard for future teams to build off of. They are a very special group, and we will miss them so much."
Sophomore midfielder Bridget Cerciello led the way offensively with three goals and a team-high six draw controls while junior midfielder Hayley Sabol matched a team-high three points on two goals and an assist. Junior attacker Rebecca Lane, sophomore midfielder Laura Lasprogata, and senior midfielder Aly Gormley hit the back of the net twice each.
The Hawks were hit with the loss of two-year starting defender Kristen Kelbon, whose second yellow card late in the first left the Hawks without their defensive anchor for the entirety of the second half.
The game proved to be a defensive battle for the better portion of the first half, as both teams combined for just five scores over the first 17:52; SJU's A-10 All-Rookie pair of attackers connected as freshman Stephanie Kelly scored on a feed from Sam McGee (22:17) and Gormley (12:35) and Sabol (12:08) converted free-position goals within 27 seconds of one another to give the Hawks a 3-2 edge early on.
From there, Richmond scored four goals to close out the first half (9:41, 6:41, 4:36, 0:23) and three to open the second (28:04, 27:16, 26:23) to jump out to a 9-3 advantage.
The Hawks battled back with four of the game's next six goals on a pair from Cerciello (24:44, 23:20) and scores from Lane (20:19, FPG) and Lasprogata (18:06) to close the deficit to four, 11-7.
The Spiders answered with four of the next five goals for a 15-8 advantage with 12:40 to play.
Gormley (10:44), Cerciello (9:06, FPG), and Lane (7:31) combined for three of the next four goals of the game to close the gap to five, 16-11, and gain offensive momentum entering the final seven minutes, but the Spiders fired off three in a row (6:03, 3:41, 2:32) to take a 19-11 advantage into the closing minutes of play.
Lasprogata netted SJU's 12th goal of the day with 1:55 to play, but that 19-12 score would stand as time expired.
Richmond held a slight 33-29 edge in shots for the game and scored on 13 of its 16 shots in the second half. The Spiders also took a 19-14 edge in draw controls after earning 14 of 23 possessions from the circle in the second half and won the ground ball battle, 13-11.
Junior defender Ally Beck went for a team-high four ground balls and a team-high two caused turnovers.
Graduate student goalkeeper Liz O'Sullivan (12-7) made eight saves in the full 60:00, including six in the first half in which she held the Spiders to just six goals scored.