PHILADELPHIA – Junior midfielder Bridget Cerciello scored a career-high five goals and earned eight key draw controls and senior attacker Francesca Donato posted a game-high seven points (2g, 5a) to lead the Saint Joseph's women's lacrosse squad to a 17-13 win over VCU in Atlantic 10 action on Sweeney Field on Friday evening. With their fourth straight win, the Hawks improve to 7-4 overall (3-0 A-10) while the Rams fall to 4-6 overall (1-2 A-10).
"I'm really proud of how our team came out today," said head coach Alex Kahoe following the victory. "Every A-10 game is going to be a tough battle, and today was one of those days. Bridget stepped up offensively for us to really help take home the win."
"It's really exciting for me," added Cerciello of her career-high day. "Most of our goals were assisted, so it was a huge team effort today. A lot of my goals were a credit to my teammates for getting me in a good spot to shoot. It's really exciting, but it could have been anybody on our team to score those five goals today."
Sophomore midfielder Taylor Newman-Farr and freshman attacker Lauren Figura added hat tricks while senior attacker Hayley Sabol and freshman midfielder Sophia Kolkka went for two goals and two helpers apiece.
The deciding run happened in the final 7:33 of regulation. After Cerciello completed a hat trick at the 16:28 mark of the second half to put SJU up by two, 12-10, VCU fired off three goals in under a three-minute span (13:58, 13:39, 11:16) to take a 13-12 edge.
However, Cerciello knotted the game at 13-13 on an eight-meter goal with 7:33 to play, and Sabol would find Donato (6:38) and Kolkka (5:57), both cutting in front of the net, to regain the lead for the Crimson and Gray, 15-13.
Kolkka extended the Hawks' lead to three, 16-13, on an eight-meter goal (5:00) before Cerciello, assisted by Kolkka, hit the back of the net for the fifth time with 2:43 to play for insurance.
Saint Joseph's had jumped out to a 5-0 advantage to open the game, highlighted by Sabol's early pair of goals and a trio of Donato assists, but VCU went on a 6-1 run as the game sat even, 6-6, with 10:58 remaining in the first half.
From there, the Hawks scored twice to close the first half, but the Rams scored twice to open the second half to once again knot the game, 8-8, at the 27:07 mark. SJU then scored three of the game's next five goals to own the one-goal advantage leading to Cerciello's 16:28 goal.
Goalkeeper Corinne Buttner (4-2, 3-0 A-10) made six saves vs. six goals allowed in a split 30:18 of play. The sophomore made two saves in the opening 19:02 and returned to the game with 11:16 to go in the second half and the Hawks trailing, 13-12; she made four saves and held the Rams scoreless during that time to lock down the win for the Crimson and Gray.
Saint Joseph's outshot VCU, 46-28, and held a 19-13 edge in draw controls. Kolkka and Donato caused three turnovers apiece while Donato and senior defender Ally Beck scooped up three ground balls each.
The Hawks return to action at UMass this Sunday. Opening draw control in Amherst, Mass. is set for 1:00 p.m.
"We're really excited and we feel like this is our year," added Cerciello of Sunday's game. "We're just going to come out and play our game as best as we can, play St. Joe's lacrosse like we always do."