Tied 14-14, freshman Ava Yovino (Parkland, Fla.) scored to put the Navy women’s lacrosse team (1-1) in front and the defense held strong to give the Midshipmen a 15-14 victory over East Carolina (1-1) on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Johnson Stadium in Greenville, N.C. Yovino paced the team with eight points on five goals and three assists in just her second collegiate game.

“This was a tough game, but I am proud of the team for fighting and being able to pull out the victory,” head coach Cindy Timchal said. “It was a tough game for us coming off of Duke. Our goal was to come out strong, which we did, but ECU played inspired lacrosse and were able to take the lead against us. We had to pull together and find a way. I was really proud of the team for playing with a lot of heart.

“ECU was a tough team with a lot of experience. We are young and aren’t as consistent as we need to be yet. Throughout the day, the rainy conditions got worse as the game kept going, but we tried to get into a ‘one play at a time mentality.’ It is a testament to this team for continuing to fight and battle until the final whistle.”

Yovino led the Navy offensive attack with five goals, including the game winner, while also dishing out a team-high three assists. The hat trick was the second of the year for the freshman. Leelee Denton (Nashville, Tenn.) and Lola Leone (Bay Shore, N.Y.) also added hat tricks on the day, netting three goals apiece. Emily Messinese (Manchester, Md.) added three points on a goal and two assists, while Emma Kennedy (Cooksville, Md.) registered two points on a goal and a helper. Maggie DeFabio (Summit, N.J.) and Charlotte Ryan (Tully, N.Y.) rounded out the scoring with one goal apiece.

Defensively, the Mids caused seven of the Pirates’ 12 turnovers on the day. Yovino and Grace Peterson (Mound, Minn.) led the way with two caused turnovers apiece, while DeFabio, Erin Carson (New Albany, Ohio), and Athena Corroon (Greenwich, Conn.) added a CT each. Corroon led the team with five ground balls, while Peterson and DeFabio followed with three and two GB, respectively. Emma Richardell (Bethesda, Md.) worked a complete game between the pipes for the Mids, finishing with five saves.

The Midshipmen edged the Pirates, 18-15, in draw controls, winning eight of the final 10 draws in the fourth quarter to help the come-from-behind victory. Messinese led the team with five draw controls, while Maura Murphy (Woodbine, Md.) won four draws. In addition, Yovino, Alyssa Daley (Walkersville, Md.), and Kat McAteer (Bohemia, N.Y.) picked up three draws apiece.

In the first quarter, Navy wasted little time scratching the scoreboard as Denton converted a pass from Kennedy for the game’s first score. ECU tied the game at one, but the Midshipmen responded with three straight goals to take a 4-1 advantage. Messinese, Denton, and Yovino each netted goals during the 3-0 run, with Yovino also adding a pair of assists. The Pirates scored back-to-back goals to pull to within one, but the Mids closed the first quarter with Yovino’s second quarter goal to pull ahead 5-3.

Credit: Nat LeDonne / Duke Athletics

East Carolina used a solid second quarter performance to knot the game at 7-7 heading into halftime. The home team scored back-to-back goals to start the quarter to tie the game at 5-5. The Midshipmen regained the lead as Ryan scored her first goal of the season. The Pirates responded, but once again the Mids retook the lead as DeFabio found the back of the net. With 20 ticks on the clock, ECU knotted the score once again, sending the game into halftime locked at 7-7.

The third quarter saw the Pirates take their first lead of the game. ECU held the Midshipmen scoreless for 13 minutes, while scoring four straight goals to take an 11-7 advantage. Yovino ended the home team’s run with back-to-back goals to close out the period and trim the deficit to two, 11-9.

In the fourth quarter, East Carolina extended its advantage back to three goals with a score a minute into the period. Navy countered with a run to tie and ultimately regain the lead. Leone found the back of the net on back-to-back possessions to trim the margin to one. Denton followed, converting a free-position opportunity to knot the score at 12-12. Leone once again buried the ball in the back of the net, giving the Mids their first lead since late in the second quarter. ECU scored the equalizer, but Kennedy made her first collegiate goal count, giving Navy the lead once again. A minute later, the Pirates evened the game at 14-14. Yovino fired a rocket past the East Carolina goalie to put the Midshipmen up one with two minutes to play. Yovino won the ensuing draw control and the Mids worked the shot clock down to zero, giving ECU just 22 seconds to try to tie the game. The Midshipmen defense locked down, forcing an errant shot and securing the first victory of the season.

Navy returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 18 as the Midshipmen travel to West Long Branch, N.J. to take on Monmouth (1-0) at 10:00 a.m. The game will be streamed on FloSports ($) and live stats will be available.

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