GREENVILLE, N.C. – The final game of the regular-season came down to a single goal as the East Carolina lacrosse team lost a heartbreaking 14-13 contest to Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon.
Coming into the day, ECU and Cincinnati were tied for the final AAC playoff spot with the winner moving onto the league’s semifinals. The Bearcats took that spot and will head to the postseason with a 7-9 overall record and a 3-7 AAC mark. The Pirates will finish the season with a 4-12 overall ledger and a 2-8 league tally.
With that playoff spot on the line, the day could not have started much worse for ECU. The Bearcats had a stranglehold on the game and scored the day’s first six goals, with Monica Borzillo scoring three and Sam Mlkvy scoring a pair.
Facing that deficit, the Pirates began to claw back into the game. Nicole LeGar finally opened the scoring at the 15:56 mark. The senior midfielder got a second goal at the 13:19 mark as the Pirates took advantage of a Cincinnati yellow card. LeGar made it three straight goals at the 7:08 mark with LeGar juking past a Bearcat defender to score.
Along with LeGar, ECU got a spark from senior goalkeeper Christina White. White came in for starter Ashley Vernon at the 17:48 mark and was called on to make a save on the ensuing Cincinnati possession, a stop that prevented Cincinnati from pushing its lead to 7-0.
ECU’s run continued its run with LeGar setting up her fellow senior Megan Pallozzi for a goal. LeGar made it an astonishing five straight Pirate goals at the 3:42 mark when she scored her fourth goal of the first half. LeGar’s goal was the final of the opening half and the Pirates went into the break trailing just 6-5.
The Bearcat offense finally beat White as Cincinnati scored 38 seconds into the second half to push the lead back to two, but Frances Kimel scored to answer.
After trading free-position goals, with Cincinnati’s coming from Borzillo while Ally Stanton scored for ECU, the Pirates finally tied the game. It was Pallozzi who got the goal, putting ECU level with 22:49 to go.
The Bearcats once again took the lead, scoring back-to-back goals. However, the Pirates used a stifling defense to finally go in front. First, Stanton scored her second free-position goal to get ECU back within one. Four minutes later, Megan Tryniski scored from the eight-meter arc to tie the game. The Pirates won the next draw and that led to LeGar feeding Tryniski who scored to give ECU an 11-10 lead, the first of the game.
ECU got a cushion when Sophia LoCicero scored, but it was shortlive with Taylor Gysin answering less than a minute later. The two squads traded goals once again, with Tryniski feeding LeGar for her fifth goal of the game before Kylie Nause scored for Cincinnati. The Bearcats again tied the game at the 5:57 mark when Gysin scored.
The final six minutes were frantic, with both teams trying to retake the lead. Cincinnati eventually ended up with the ball with less than a minute left, but an errant Bearcat pass was picked up by White. Unfortunately, the Pirates could not clear the ball and the Bearcats took it over again with 31 seconds remaining.
The dagger came seven seconds later as Cincinnati raced forward and Peyton Mottice found Anna Platou who scored with 24 seconds left. Borzillo won the following draw and Cincinnati was able to close out the win.
LeGar finished with five goals and two assists for seven points, falling just one short of the ECU record in both goals and points. Tryniski added two goals and an assist while Stanton and Pallozzi each had two tallies.
LeGar added two draw controls, five ground balls and two caused turnovers. Payton Barr had three draw controls for the Pirates while Alexandra Giacolone caused two Cincinnati turnovers. White played the final 47:48 in the crease for ECU and made seven saves as well as grabbing three ground balls.