FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Westfield State senior Elizabeth Navoni (Mansfield, Mass.) scooped up a loose ball off a rebound and buried her shot with 50 seconds left in regulation to lift Westfield State to the 2019 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference women's lacrosse championship, 13-12 over top-seeded Framingham State at Maple Street Field on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the third-seeded Owls capture their third straight MASCAC Tournament Championship and will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament.
Westfield improves to 11-9 with the win, while the Rams season ends with a 15-4 overall record.
With the game tied at 12-12 and less than a minute to play, Westfield's Lucy Barrett (Williamstown, Mass.) fired a shot from the left side that was saved by Rams goalkeeper Indigo Fox-Tree McGrath, but the rebound bounced into the center of the fan, and Navoni scooped up the loose ball and fired a high shot that found the back of the net for a 13-12 Westfield lead.
With 13 seconds left in regulation time, Framingham's Hannah McMahon got a shot off but Owls senior goalkeeper and MVP Maria Woodall (King Phillip/Norfolk, Mass.) came up with her 14th save of the game to preserve the lead and the win. Woodall earned tournament MVP honors for the third straight season.
Woodall set the tone early with a save on the Rams' first shot just 21 seconds into the contest, and then made multiple critical saves in the closing minutes of the game.
The game had hung in the balance throughout. Westfield jumped out to an early lead, and held a three goal lead on several occasions in the first half, but Framingham netted the final two goals of the first half to cut the Owls lead to 8-7 at the break.
Westfield's Sydney Lambert's (Hanover, Mass.) drive gave Westfield a 9-7 lead 1:41 in to the second half, and Marissa Nimeskern's (Hanover, Mass.) free position from the top with 21:31 extended Westfield's lead to 10-7.
Back to back goals from the Rams' Morgan Henley cut the lead to 10-9 with 16:11 left to play
Framingham tied the game at 10-all as Grace Gamache fed Alissa Marino from behind the goal with 9:13 left to play. First time the game was tied since 1-1 less than 4 minutes into the game.
The Rams grabbed an 11-10 lead with 8:34 to play when Marino returned the favor, feeding Gamache cutting to the net for the goal, and the first Rams' lead of the game.
An Alexa Tonelli (Shrewsbury, Mass.) free position goal with 6:49 tied the game at 11-all, then Barrett won the draw flipping to Lambert for possession, and then a Navoni shot from just outside fan as Barrett fed from 20 yards out to give the Owls a 12-11 with 5:52 to play.
The Owls won the draw again with same combination, but Framingham's Nicole Pacheco stole a pass on ensuing possession and McMahon drove to goal from the left side and beat Woodall high to the near post for a 12-12 tie with 4:37 left in regulation.
Navoni finished with four goals to lead Westfield's scorers. Lambert added three goals and an assist, Tonelli a pair of goals, and Barrett finished with a goal and two assists.
Alissa Marino led Framingham with four goals and an assist, with Gamache adding two goals and three assists. Fox-Tree McGrath made 10 saves.
Westfield was powered by 10 player senior class that helped lead the Owls through an uneven season which saw a 2-0 start followed by a seven game losing streak, and now have capped the season with a six-game winning streak that included road victories in the conference semifinals and finals.
Lambert moves into a tie for third on the Owls' all-time scoring list with 214 career points, and her 170 goals rank third all time. Nimeskern, Tonelli and Navoni all rank among the Owls' top point scorers. Senior attack Allie Fedak (Wilbraham, Mass.) worked her way into the lineup as the season wore on, and fellow attack Barrett presents a unique resume – having won three MASCAC lacrosse tournament titles, four MASCAC women's basketball tournament titles, and three basketball regular season titles and two lacrosse regular season titles, and will make her seventh appearance in an NCAA Tournament when the Owls learn their destination in the opening round of the 2019 NCAAs. Defenders Caroline Arket (Arlington/Pouquag, NY), Oliva Overdahl (Milford, Mass.), and Shannon Gillis (Norwood, Mass.) have helped backstop the Owls along with Woodall. The Owls senior class has compiled a 57-23 composite record for a .713 winning percentage.
Westfield was making its fifth straight appearance in the MASCAC title game, all under sixth-season head coach Jeff Pechulis.
The Owls defeated Framingham State in the title game for the second straight season, emerging a 17-10 winner a year ago.
Westfield will make its third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Owls will learn their destination and opponent on Sunday night, as the field will be announced with a selection show broadcast on NCAA.com at 9:30 p.m.