BENNINGTON — The New England Collegiate Conference announced its seeds on Saturday for the 2016 women's lacrosse postseason tournament to take place this upcoming week and Southern Vermont College claimed the No. 3 seed.
The Mountaineers' second straight tournament appearance in as many years of the program's existence sees SVC earn the right to host a postseason match for the first time in history. Southern Vermont will take on sixth-seeded on Tuesday at Everett Field at 4 p.m.
"It's very exciting for our second-year program to be back in the playoffs, and more so with a record of 5-2 compared to where we were last year," said SVC head coach Tom Otero. "This is such an exciting time for our team and our players who have progressed from a brand new program to the potential of a successful playoff team in just two seasons. The opportunity to play on our home field with our home fans watching will be a big emotional lift for our players. We want to represent SVC proudly and create an experience that will be remembered in the future."
SVC got back into the playoffs with a 5-2 record in league action (5-10 overall), breaking the team's wins mark from a year ago.
Southern Vermont notched its new victory record with a big 20-18 Saturday win over Elms, scoring the most goals in team history. EC finished the regular season at 3-4 in NECC action and 7-9 overall. Tuesday will be a rematch of last season's 2015 first-round playoff game that saw the Blazers win 21-5 over SVC to make it into the semifinals for the third straight year.
In the game, Mel Orrell had eight goals, including the 100th of her career and finished the year as the top scorer in the conference.
The match was tight from wire to wire as neither side led by more than three at any point. SVC got the last strike of the first half with just 22 ticks left, taking a 10-9 edge into the break. Elms tied the game at 18-18 with 7:27 to go in regulation, but the Mountaineers were able to find the back of the net two more times while keeping EC out of theirs to clip the Blazers for the hard-fought win.
Orrell also tallied seven ground balls Saturday to tie the game-high while snagging a match-best 10 draw controls to tie her career-high. Fellow junior captain Emily Lesure added another five goals, six ground balls and three draw controls, and additional junior captain Lauren Nesshoever had five goals of her own, adding five draw controls to her line.
SVC sophomore goaltender Kelsey Carrera made eight saves in the win (3-5), tying Orrell with seven ground balls in the defensive end.
Last season, SVC had to travel to Elms for the first round and were knocked out.
"Playing a team twice in one season is very tough; playing a team twice in four days is really tough," Otero said. "We've each felt each other's team out and know their strengths and weaknesses. It will be the team that is able to adjust more successfully which will win the next meeting."
Three-time defending NECC champion Regis College took a first-round bye and the top seed with another undefeated league record (7-0 NECC, 10-6 overall), now having won its last 24 straight regular season Conference matches. The Pride will host the winner of No. 5 Mitchell College (3-4 NECC, 5-6 overall) against fourth-seeded Wheelock College (4-3, 9-7 overall) on Thursday in a 4 p.m. semifinal matchup.
Becker College secured the No. 2 seed and the other first-round bye, earning the right to host the second semifinal game on Thursday with a 5-2 league mark (8-9 overall). BC took the head-to-head tiebreaker over SVC as the Hawks defeated Southern Vermont 15-9 back on March 30. Becker will play the winner of the Mountaineers against Elms at a time to be determined.
Thursday's two winners will advance to play in the Conference championship game on Saturday, April 30 at the highest remaining seed, the winner of that game earning the right to then play in the NCAA Division III tournament.