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Women's Lacrosse Advances in NCAA Tourney with 10-7 Win at Dartmouth

UAlbany senior and America East MVP Nikki Branchini's 2nd half score began a 5-goal surge leading the Danes over the Big Green.

Freshman Persy Sample's unassisted goal with 13:54 to go broke a 6-6 tie -- part of a 5-goal UAlbany run -- and led the Great Danes women's lacrosse team to a NCAA first-round victory over Dartmouth College on Sunday afternoon in Hanover.

The unbeaten Great Danes now move on to meet second-seeded Northwestern in the NCAA quarterfinals on May 21 at 8 p.m.

Senior midfielder Nikki Branchini's score with 15:25 to go had tied the game at 6-6 in the seesaw 2nd half, which saw six ties or lead changes. Sample's goal, which made it 7-6, was followed by UAlbany scores from Jodi Battaglia, her third of the game, assisted by Sample, Allie Phelan and Taylor Frink. Frink's score made it 10-6 with 2:03 to go, and Dartmouth added a final goal with 33 seconds remaining.

The Big Green jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first 5:01 of the contest, but the Great Danes fought back for a 4-3 advantage at halftime, with Battaglia scoring two of the four goals.

"We had an early case of nerves," offered first-year UAlbany coach John Battaglino, whose team is ranked No. 8 in the IWLCA coaches' poll and No. 6 by deBeer/Inside Lacrosse. "But the theme of the year has been to find a way. This team has stayed together and found a way to overcome."

Dartmouth soon tied things 4-4 in the second half via a Hana Bowers score 1:19 in. Rachel Burek UAlbany back in the lead 39 seconds later, but the Big Green tallied two to go up 6-5, before the Danes put on their final surge to victory. In addition to Battaglia's three goals, Phelan had two, and Sample had two assists to go with her tie-breaking score.

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