By Matt Green
ROME – Less than 10 months ago, SCAD-Savannah's women's lacrosse team celebrated its first National Women's Lacrosse League championship with an overtime victory on Shorter's Ben Brady Field.
SCAD-Savannah's latest overtime outing on Ben Brady resulted in a different outcome.
Shorter junior Bianca Rojas scored the game-tying goal with 12 seconds to go in regulation then notched the game winner 19 seconds into the second sudden victory period to lift Shorter to a thrilling 11-10 victory over defending NWLL champion SCAD-Savannah on a frigid Saturday afternoon at Ben Brady Field.
The win improves Shorter to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the NWLL's South Region and also gives the Lady Hawks an early inside track to a South Region regular season title. SCAD-Savannah (1-1, 1-1) lost for just the second time in 12 all-time NWLL games and now looks forward to its April 7 date with Shorter in Savannah which figures to decide the South Region title.
The Lady Hawks were shutout in the first half and trailed 8-2 with 23:56 to play in the game before reeling off six straight goals to force overtime. Shorter still trailed 8-6 with under half a minute left in regulation before Desiree' Watson-Isom scored with 21 seconds left and Rojas followed nine seconds later with the equalizer to tie the game at 8 and send it to extra periods.
Shorter continued its dominance early in the first overtime, with Shelby Beverly and Avery Armstrong finding the back of the net to put Shorter ahead 10-8 at the 1:36 mark of the first OT, but the Lady Hawks went scoreless over the final 4:36 of the first extra session and SCAD-Savannah got tallies from Charlotte Walters and reigning NWLL Player of the Year Charlotte Cutts to knot the score at 10 and force sudden victory.
Neither team could find paydirt in the first sudden victory session, but right off the draw to open the second, Rojas intercepted a pass from SCAD's Sophie Spivack in SCAD's zone, scooped up the ground ball, raced toward goal and fired a shot past SCAD goalie Jenny Danko to end the game and send Shorter's bench spilling onto the field in excitement.
In a game that was evenly matched on the stat sheet – Shorter held a slight advantage in ground balls (55-53) while both teams won 13 draws – it was Shorter's aggression after halftime that made the difference.
SCAD-Savannah led 5-0 at halftime after outshooting Shorter 12-8 in the first 30 minutes. But Shorter turned the tide in the second half, outshooting SCAD 20-13 and sending relentless amounts of pressure at the Bees' cage while holding SCAD scoreless for a stretch of nearly 27 minutes after Walters put the Bees up 8-2. Rojas scored all three of her goals after halftime to pace Shorter offensively, but the Lady Hawks got goals from seven different players in the game, displaying a balanced attack that proved, in the end, to be too much for SCAD to hold off.
Shorter goalie Taylor Moody was brilliant between the pipes in her showdown with Danko, who was voted the NWLL's top goalie last season. Moody stopped a career high 12 shots in the win. Two of those stops came in the second half of the first overtime on a pair of free position attempts that could have won the game for the visitors.
Armstrong and Amber Hicks finished with two goals for Shorter while Beverly, Watson-Isom, Aiste Pranciliauskaite and Mia Wiggins also added goals for the victors. Pranciliauskaite tossed in an assist as did Katie Ott.
Walters led SCAD-Savannah with a game-high five goals, three of which came in the first half. Kayla Nelson and Haley Fauvelle chipped in with two apiece for the Bees, but Cutts was held to one goal on four total shots.
The Lady Hawks return to action on Feb. 22 when they play host to Lindenwood University (Mo.) at Ben Brady Field. Game time is set for 7 pm.