RUTLAND, Vt.—Freshman goaltender Casey Schaejbe (Arlington, Mass.) made a career-high 49 saves and Alyssa Sullivan (Medford, Mass.) and Emily LaRosa (Weymouth, Mass.) scored third period tallies to lift the Beacons to a 5-3 ECAC East Quarterfinal victory over host Castleton State College Saturday afternoon at the Spartan Ice Arena.
With the win, fifth-seeded UMass Boston moves to 9-13-4 on the season and advances to Saturday's ECAC East Semifinals. It is the seventh time in eight years that the Beacons have advanced to the Final Four in the league tournament. On the other side, the fourth-seeded Spartans end their season with a 9-12-5 mark.
After grabbing a 3-0 lead 2:26 into the second period, UMass Boston watched as Castleton State fought back to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the third. Instead of wilting in a tough road environment, the Beacons answered back, as Sullivan scored a short-handed tally with 7:11 remaining in regulation for the game-winner and LaRosa provided insurance with under three minutes to play.
The Beacons senior assistant captain playing in her 99th career game lifted a Beacons offense that had been struggling mightily to close out the regular season. LaRosa finished with two goals and an assist and tallied a team-high six shots.
The real hero of the day though was Schaejbe. Less than 24 hours after being named to the ECAC East All Rookie Team, Schajebe made 49 saves on 52 shots and helped UMB kill off two of Castleton State's three power-play opportunities.
Her 49 saves are the sixth most saves in a single game in Beacons program-history and the most stops in UMB history in a postseason game. The freshman netminder was a rock in net, consistently turning away point-blank and breakaway chances in her first collegiate playoff game.
Castleton State coach Bill Bowes couldn't seem to make up his mind on which goaltender he should use. He switched between starter Paula Stephens and backup Jess Cameron 18 times throughout the contest, as his pair of goalies combined to make 28 saves on 33 shots, with Cameron taking the loss.
The Spartans dominated the first 15 minutes of the contest, outshooting the Beacons 13-5, with several Grade A chances, but nothing to show for them.
UMass Boston slowly tilted the scales over the final five minutes of the period, with LaRosa stunning the Spartans at 18:36 of the period. After a flurry of good looks for the Spartans, an errant shot caromed all the way out of the zone to LaRosa who went in 1-on-1 with Stephens, before burying the puck just over the goaltender's glove.
Schaejbe and the Beacons carried a 1-0 lead into the break despite being outshot 17-13 for the stanza.
White gave UMB a little breathing room 53 seconds into the third when she snapped a wrister from the right slot that beat Stephens to make it 2-0 Beacons. Less than two minutes later Loiselle made it 3-0 UMass Boston, when she beat Stephens with nice dangle to cap off UMB's scoring for the period.
Castleton State answered right back with three goals, thanks to Jessica Spidle, BriAnna Narodowy and a short-handed goal from Anna Daniels. The equalizer from Daniels came with 38 seconds to go in the second period, when she skated in on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 rush with Nicoline Jensen and buried a shot by Schaejbe, after Jensen took the defender out of the play with a nice pass.
In the second period, Castleton State College outshot UMass Boston 19-9 and scored the lone power-play goal of the game.
Third period play would be much less eventful on the scoreboard, as both teams played more cautiously with their seasons on the line. The two teams traded chances, with both teams racking up eight shots over the first 12:45 of the period.
UMass Boston took the lead for good with 7:11 to play in regulation, when Sullivan took an Emily Howard (Terryville, Conn.) rebound and lifted it over Cameron's pads for the eventual game-winner. The play started when UMB forced a Spartans turnover in their zone and Howard skated in 1-on-1 with the goalie, only to be robbed on her initial short-handed try.
LaRosa put the game away with 2:53 to go, when she skated in against two defenders and a sent a shot by Stephens to make it 5-3. With the three-point afternoon, LaRosa now leads the Beacons with nine assists and 17 points.
Castleton State failed to muster any kind of attack over the final few minutes and Schaejbe was up to the task on anything that came close to her, as she finished with 15 saves for the period.
The Beacons will take on either top-seeded Norwich University or second-seeded Manhattanvilel College next Saturday with the time and place still to be announced.