NEWTON, Mass. -- For the fifth consecutive year, the Lasell College women's soccer program enters the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) playoffs at the top-seed. The Lasers are on a quest for their eighth straight conference championship , beginning with the Quarterfinal match against eighth-seeded Suffolk University. Kickoff between the Lasers and the Rams is set for 1:00 p.m. at Taylor Field on Saturday, October 28.
On Saturday evening, the Lasers knocked-off then first-place Johnson & Wales on the road 2-0 to clinch the top seed. Erika Badger (Scituate, Mass.) put the Lasers on the board in the 33rd minute on a PK, before Melissa Vasquez (Pawtucket, R.I.) gave Lasell some insurance in the 76th minute.
Each finishing the season with identical 10-1 GNAC regular season records, Lasell earned the top seed, as well as the right to host throughout the tournament by winning the lone head-to-head matchup.
The victory marked a historic milestone for Lasell head coach Vito La Francesca, who recorded his 150th win leading the program.
On September 27, just one month ago, the Lasers dropped their only conference loss on the road at the hands of Suffolk. Suffolk's victory marked their first over the Lasers in program history, dating back to the 2007 season. For the Lasers, the 2-0 upset marked their first conference loss since 2012. Suffolk comes into the Quarterfinal match-up at 4-7 in GNAC play, and 7-8 overall.
Leading the offensive charge for the Lasers headed into the conference tournament is Carly Zdanek (Newton, N.J.) who currently sits at fifth in-conference for goals with 13. 10 of those goals have come in GNAC victories, and five have been game-winners.
Juniors Morgan Pinksten (Pelham, N.H.) and Badger have contributed five goals apiece this season. Pinksten has also tossed in three assists for 19 points, second-best behind Zdanek. Sophomore Caitlin Rotonnelli (Meredith, N.H) has contributed six goals this season, including one game-winner.
Senior Goalkeeper Sarah LaClair (Belchertown, Mass.) has continued her career success between the pipes for the Lasers. This season, LaClair and the Lasers have only allowed 13 goals, including only a mere 3 in conference play. LaClair has had to make only 51 saves, including 4 shutouts best for fifth best save-percentage (.797) and second-best goals-against average (.930) in conference. She currently has a school record 24 career shutouts.
The Lasers have rallied for six wins and just one loss since their conference defeat to Suffolk, losing to non-conference foe Roger Williams 1-0 on October 16.
Suffolk is led by Alexandra Nagri (Salem, Mass.) and Jennifer Martin (Higganum, Conn.) . Nagri leads the Rams with 14 goals and two assists for 30 points this season. Martin has contributed 12 goals and four assists for 28 points. The Rams dynamic-duo looks to knock-off the Lasers for the second time this season.
Sophomore Goalkeeper Julia Fieldsend (Exeter, N.H.) has made 82 saves for the Rams in 13 game including two shutouts, boasting a conference eight-best .759 save percentage. Fieldsend has a 2.23 goals-against average, allowing 26 goals throughout the 2017 regular season.
All four quarterfinals are set place to take place on Saturday October 28, with the semifinals on Tuesday October 31, before the GNAC Championship on Saturday November 4th.
The quarterfinal is set for 1:00pm at Taylor Field, and can be viewed live at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/lasell/.