Toomey’s late goal gives women’s lax top seed

Matt Eisenberg

Lianne Toomey had just turned the ball over right after the Monmouth Hawks tied the game at 8. It could have resulted in one-goal deficit and, possibly, cost the Bobcats home-field advantage in the Northeast Conference playoffs.

But goalkeeper Noelle Martello bailed her out, making a crucial save, and Toomey redeemed herself, scoring three goals in a 13-minute span, leading Quinnipiac to a 13-8 win to close out the regular season and clinch sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the NEC tournament for the first time in program history Saturday at Kessler Field.

“I couldn’t be happier that they actually won the regular season championship, rather than backing into it with help,” Quinnipiac head coach Danie Caro said. “My staff has told them all season that they are capable of playing with anyone in this conference and today they proved it.”

Marissa Caroleo also scored five times, Devon Gibney tallied four points and Martello stopped 13 shots and tied the program record for most single-season victories (10) for the Bobcats, who will host Sacred Heart on Friday.

The Bobcats ride into the playoffs winning 11 of their last 12 games, and, in the process, eliminated the Hawks from playoff contention. Monmouth (10-7, 5-4 NEC) was in a three-way tie for fourth place with Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary’s before the game, but lost its final three games.

“Marissa had a great game for us today. Devon was awesome on the draw for us and did a great job on defense today. Noelle had a great second half,” Caro said. “What really made the coaching staff happy are the little contributions we received from everyone today. No one had a bad game, and every single player stepped up and made plays when we needed them to.”

Toomey scored with 17:41 to go in the second half to give the Bobcats (11-4, 8-1) a 9-8 lead, and start a 5-0 run to end the game. Her second goal came on a free position shot with 9:33 left.

She has scored nine goals in her last four games, including two in Quinnipiac’s 11-8 win over the Mount Thursday, giving her 22 goals on the season.

Caroleo, the team’s leading goal scorer with 47, scored a minute later on a free position shot, and Toomey netted her final goal with 4:50 to go to make it 12-8. Jennifer Skipper scored QU’s last goal.

Molly O’Brien scored three goals, including the game-tying one with 20:28 left for Monmouth (10-7, 5-4).

QU cleared the ball its last six attempts after the Hawks tied it up, and forced five turnovers over the last 17:30. Martello made four saves after O’Brien’s goal, including the one to change the game’s momentum.

The Bobcats trailed 5-3 midway through the first before Caroleo started a 4-0 run. Gibney tied the game at 5, Caroleo scored a go-ahead goal, and Laura Iannotti added an insurance goal for a 7-5 halftime lead.