Freshman Sydney Forshay (Clifton Springs, NY/Midlakes) netted the game-winning goal as the Keuka College women's lacrosse team earned an 11-10 non-conference win over Utica College Wednesday afternoon in Utica, N.Y.
Junior Jennifer Burt (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan) scored three goals, senior Caroline Arancio (Clinton, NY/Clinton) added one goal with three assists and freshman Morgan Bruno (Seneca Falls, NY/Mynderse) had three assists as the Storm (14-2) earned their 12th straight win.
Junior Kaycee Maguire (Potsdam, NY/Potsdam) had two goals with one assist, Forshay and senior Taylor Smith (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder) each scored two goals and junior Olivia Hudson (Adams, NY/South Jefferson) recorded one goal with three groundballs to help fourth-year head coach Kelly Lickert-Orr earn her 50th career win at Keuka College.
"We played with a lot of heart and hustle today. It was a downpour and it was freezing, but we handled the challenge and played with a lot of heart today," said Lickert-Orr, who said the milestone win was more about the strength and dedication of her four seniors than it was about an individual milestone.
"For those seniors (Arancio, Smith, Maggie Bonafede and Korie Fitzgerald) who stuck it out all four years, I'm so proud of them for their accomplishments and their hard work. Today, it was good for us to play a good, physical Empire 8 team. They play at a level we haven't seen in some time, so it was good for us to play a back-and-forth game against good competition and win."
Smith added four groundballs and won four draw controls, while Burt, Maguire and freshman Maura Gosson (Syracuse, NY/Marcellus) each collected three groundballs in the win, Keuka's 12th straight triumph.
Senior Korie Fitzgerald (Vestal, NY/Vestal) made five saves for the Storm, who earned the number one seed and will host the NEAC tournament. Keuka College will play No. 4 Cazenovia (9-7) in one semifinal at 11 a.m. Saturday, with No. 2 Morrisville State (11-6, 8-1) meeting No. 3 Medaille (8-6, 5-2) in the other semifinal at 1:30 p.m.
The NEAC championship will occur at 1 p.m. Sunday, with the winner earning the NEAC's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Green and Gold defeated Cazenovia 16-5 (April 5), Morrisville State 14-6 (April 6) and Medaille 19-0 (April 26).
"This game definitely gave us momentum and confidence heading into NEAC's," Arancio said. "We're determined to prove to the rest of the NEAC that we can do anything and we can beat anybody. We have such good team chemistry and we all work hard for each other. We know what the other student-athletes on our team are going to do and how they like to play the game, and it really works in our favor."
In 2013, the Storm won NEAC's and earned the program's first-ever NCAA appearance.
Against Utica, Burt scored twice and Maguire and Forshay also had goals as the Storm took a 4-2 lead with 13:43 remaining in the opening half.
The Pioneers (10-6) answered with back-to-back goals to knot the score at 4, and neither school scored again until Burt's unassisted tally with 1:52 remaining in the first.
Arancio scored on a free-position shot for a 6-5 lead and Smith and Maguire each added goals to stake the Storm to an 8-6 lead with 13:50 remaining, but Vanessa Maines and Megan Kane scored 1:30 apart to even the score at 8.
Hudson and Kane each had free-position goals as the score was tied at 9 with 4:35 remaining. Forshay then put the Storm up for good off a feed from Bruno with 2:23 remaining.
Arancio fed Smith for a tally with 34 seconds left and the Storm held on for the win.
The Green and Gold entered play Wednesday as the national leader in fewest goals allowed (71 goals in 16 games), good for a 4.44 goals-against average.
"We're playing incredibly well together as a team," Hudson said. "As the season has progressed, we've become a tight-knit family and we work well together on and off the field. We're very confident heading into the weekend, but we have to play our best if we want to win. If we play hard, play our best and play our game this weekend, we'll definitely be on the right track."