Mustangs Rally to Claim First-Ever Conference Title, 13-12 Over Messiah

GRANTHAM, Pa. - Stevenson women's lacrosse sophomore Carli Bafford scored her only goal of the game with just 2.4 seconds remaining to carry the second-seeded Mustangs to the Commonwealth Conference championship, 13-12 over top-seeded Messiah Saturday afternoon at Anderson Field.

With the win, the Mustangs (13-5) claimed its first-ever conference championship title in just its second appearance and received the conference's automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship.

For her effort Saturday and in two conference tournament games, junior Kathryn Merrick was named Most Outstanding Player. She finished the championship game with five points on four goals, all of which came in the second half.

The Falcons (11-7) led 4-2 midway through the first half, as Lizzy Keeney, the conference's leading scorer, totaled three goals. Keeney finished with a game-high six points on five goals.

After trailing by three, Stevenson would score three of the final four goals of the half to cut its deficit to 7-6 at the break. Messiah outshot the Mustangs 16-9 in the half while also grabbing 10 of the 14 draw controls.

The Mustangs again trailed by three goal but responded by scoring four-straight, including two by Merrick, the last coming with 11:57 remaining.

After 15:10 without a goal, Messiah tied the game at 12 with 1:02 remaining in the contest after Keeney scored her 71st goal of the season.

Sophomore Kellie McLaughlin grabbed the ensuing draw control before Bafford scored on a tough angle for just her seventh goal of the season as Stevenson avenged its lone conference loss to the Falcons.

After junior Leanne Bittner got the start, sophomore Maggie Lawder played the final 25:55 and totaled four saves for her first win of the season.

Stevenson, who has won 12 of its last 13, outshot Messiah 15-12 in the second half and totaled seven of the 12 draw controls.

The selection show for the 2014 NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship will be Sunday at 9:30 p.m., live on NCAA.com.