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Slow start, big finish for top-ranked Adelphi women

Michelle Ceraso welcomed the chance to refocus.

For the first time this season, the Adelphi women's lacrosse team had taken the field somewhat out of sync. But a timeout at 23:14 of the first half called by Panthers coach Joe Spallina was just what Ceraso and her teammates needed.

Just 28 seconds after play resumed, Ceraso netted the first of 11 straight goals for top-ranked Adelphi in a 24-7 rout of visiting Franklin Pierce in a Northeast-10 contest Saturday.

Elizabeth Fey and Marissa Mills each scored five goals for the Panthers, which improved to 6-0 and 2-0 in conference.

Mills put Adelphi ahead early, scoring an unassisted goal two minutes into the game, but Franklin Pierce freshman Courtney Webber - a Centerport native and Harborfields alum - tied the score just 47 seconds later.

A few minutes later, Ceraso and Kaitlyn Carter gave Adelphi some breathing room with back-to-back goals. But Webber scored again, pulling the Ravens to within 3-2.

"Coach told us that they were much better this year," said Ceraso, who had four goals. "And as soon as they came out and it was 1-1, I was like, 'Wow.' None of us were honestly expecting them to be better - and they were. So we had to just pull it together and come out stronger."

The Panthers weren't nervous about the Ravens' surge, but Spallini's timeout was the turning point according to Fey.

"He wasn't happy," said the junior who transferred from Duquesne before the start of the season. "He basically told us we have to go out there and show them who we are, because we're so much better than what we showed in the beginning."

It didn't take long for Adelphi to take charge.

The Panthers outshot Franklin Pierce, 32-7, in the first half, en route to a 15-3 lead at the break.

"This is a machine," Spallina said of his team. "These kids understand the way it's supposed to be played. Games are easy. I think that's part of the problem. We push so hard in practice - you got to make sure they come out with that same edge."

Oceanside's Brianna Nash and Webber scored back-to-back goals in the second half to pull the Ravens to within 20-6, but the deficit was too great to overcome by then.

"I thought, maybe we would have a chance to stay with them," said Webber (four goals). "Maybe not beat them, but keep it close the whole time. It was frustrating, but they're really good. They're nationally ranked so I thought overall we did a great job."

Jillian Bolduc made 14 saves for Franklin Pierce (2-3, 0-2) and Caitlin Fitzpatrick stopped 11 for Adelphi.

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