Dukes lose heartbreaker in OT
The top two lacrosse teams in the Atlantic 10 conference took the game down to the wire and then some Friday afternoon as the Dukes (9-5, 2-2) fell to 16th-ranked Massachusetts (13-1, 4-0) 10-8 in overtime.
The Dukes held an 8-6 lead with 9:13 to play but allowed a game-tying goal from Minutewoman Jesse O'Donnell with 1:37 left to take the teams to overtime. In the extra period, the Dukes controlled the ball for much of the first three minutes, not allowing the high-powered, three-time defending champion UMass offense any opportunities. But the Minutewomen were able to get the ball and with 2:16 left in overtime, and O'Donnell scored what would prove to be the game-winner and her team-high fourth of the game. Ali Houlis scored an insurance goal to lock it up with 1:16 left in overtime.
Despite the final-minute breakdown, Dukes sophomore Haley Marafioti was pleased with her team Friday.
"We didn't give up, and it goes back to our confidence, our conditioning and the teamwork we have together," she said. "We were all really positive and trying to keep each other up. We played a full 60 minutes of lacrosse."
The red and blue worked to a 5-2 lead with 28:41 left in the game, powered by Marafioti and Caitlin Prince, who both finished with two goals. UMass countered by scoring three consecutive goals to tie the game at five before a back and forth volley of goals brought the total to 8-6 Dukes.
Marafioti was impressed by Prince, who is second in the A-10 in goals.
"She has confidence. You see her out there, and you know she has swag," Marafioti said. "She is so good that if they slack off on her, good luck to them, because she is going to get past them and get it in the goal."
The Dukes relied heavily on goaltender Liz Walker, who made a career-high 18 saves.
"She was just on, and she looked so good. She even got hurt during one of the shots, and she still played like the top player that she is. It was awesome," Marafioti added.
Of goaltenders with more than 13 games played, Walker leads the A-10 with a .502 save percentage.
"She's phenomenal," Prince said. "She's like our rock back there. She controls everything. She runs our defense. It's good to have her in control."
Even in a loss, the Dukes' confidence was boosted by their performance Friday, which will prepare them for the postseason.
"We learned that we can play at a high enough level to play in the top-20, which is something we weren't sure of earlier in the season ... but coming out today we showed that," Coach Mike Scerbo said. "But, we understand that we have got to be able to finish the game."
Marafioti looked ahead to a potential postseason rematch.
"We can win. We know we can win. We proved that we can win. We will just keep preparing like we did for this game and try to carry it into the next time we play them in A-10's," she said.
The Dukes topped Saint Joseph's on the road 13-10 in overtime Sunday. They close their regular season schedule with home games against George Washington April 20 at 7 p.m. and Richmond April 22 at 1 p.m.
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