Women’s Lax Wins NEAC’s, Earns NCAA Berth
By John Boccacino/Sports Information Director
Keuka College's women's lacrosse team was the class of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) during the regular season, winning all nine conference games en route to the league's regular season championship.
Thanks to a pair of dominant scoring performances from junior Maggie Bonafede (Churchville, NY/Churchville-Chili) and sophomore Jennifer Burt (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan), the Storm captured the NEAC's postseason championship and secured the program's first-ever berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Bonafede, an attacker, scored a career-high 12 points on four goals with eight assists to earn Tournament MVP honors while Burt, also an attacker, added a season-high seven goals as the top-seeded Storm (13-3) defeated No. 3 Medaille College (11-4) 20-3 Sunday afternoon to win NEAC's.
Sophomore Kaycee Maguire (Potsdam, NY/Potsdam) added two goals and two assists while juniors Taylor Smith (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder) and Caroline Arancio (Clinton, NY/Clinton) each scored twice to lift the Green and Gold to their fourth title in the tournament's five-year history.
"This is unreal! We all went into today feeling nervous but we got those nerves out real quick after that first goal and we knew we needed to step up our play," said Bonafede, who has scored a school-record 98 points on 29 goals and a school-record 69 assists to break Brandy Shafer's (2010) previous record of 93 points.
"We didn't let up for one minute today and it showed. We got everyone involved touching the ball, our communication was on-point and the defense did an absolutely wonderful job for us. We had such good intensity, we never got down on ourselves and after every goal our girls were screaming at each other to keep us pumped up."
The Storm didn't waste much time in jumping all over the Mavericks in the NEAC championship.
Bonafede scored an unassisted goal 92 seconds in and then fed Arancio for a goal 2:27 into the contest. Keuka scored the first seven goals during a span of 11:33 as Burt recorded three goals and Arancio scored twice to spark the Green and Gold.
"Everyone can get those draw controls and everyone can get those groundballs for us, we have great versatility," Burt said after winning the first lacrosse title of her career.
"Our transition game was great, our defense was working their tails off to get us to transition the ball beautifully and that led to some super easy finishes for us. Whatever we did, they couldn't stop us. Our confidence is high and our communication was great today."
Heather Boyzuck's free-position goal with 16:52 remaining in the opening half snapped the scoreless streak, but the Storm scored the next four goals to take an 11-1 lead as Maguire scored twice and Bonafede and senior Sam Layton (Painted Post, NY/Corning West) added tallies during the run.
Following a Medaille free-position goal, Keuka took a 12-2 halftime lead after sophomore Ashley Swarts (Arkport, NY/Arkport) found a slashing Bonafede for a goal with 1:13 left in the opening half.
An aggressive Storm defense blanked Medaille for 32 minutes and 58 seconds spanning both halves. Swarts caused three turnovers while Bonafede, senior Courtney French (Massena, NY/Massena) and sophomore Olivia Hudson (Adams, NY/South Jefferson) each caused two turnovers for Keuka. Senior Molly Hogan (Horseheads, NY/Horseheads) made eight saves for the win.
Burt (four goals) and Smith (two goals) combined to score the Storm's first six goals of the second half and Keuka enjoyed a 20-2 lead after Bonafede's unassisted tally with 51 seconds remaining.
After the last seconds ticked off the clock, the members of the Storm rushed onto the field to celebrate the conference championship.
"Going to NCAA's is going to be completely awesome. It's the first time in school history for our program and we're just so amped up for this. We have nothing to lose, we're just looking to play as hard as we can, have a good time and make some more school history," Bonafede said.
"We want to show that we can play great lacrosse and we're not happy just making NCAA's, we want to win and see how far we can go," Burt added.