by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College women's lacrosse team held a lead over Converse College with less than eight minutes to play in Saturday's Conference Carolinas contest at the Barton Outdoor Athletics Complex, but Brittni Jones scored with just 16 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Valkyries a 16-15 win.
The victory secured the No. 6 seed for Converse in next week's Conference Carolinas Women's Lacrosse Championship, and the loss dropped Barton into the No. 7 slot. The Lady Bulldogs will play at No. 2 seed University of Mount Olive in the tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Barton and Converse battled through eight ties and six lead changes in the closely contested match. A goal by Brooke Lonergan on a free position shot with 15 minutes to go helped the Lady Bulldogs tie the match at 14-all, and a goal by Aryanna Fahnestock off an assist from Rebecca Fraser with 7:57 to go put Barton into the lead for the final time.
Jones tied the match at 15-all with 6:09 remaining on a goal off an assist from Sharlize Burgos. Barton had its opportunities down the stretch, but had a shot-clock violation and two turnovers on its final three offensive possessions of the match.
Barton goalie Katherine Mattena made two big stops in the waning minutes, including one on an attempt by Jones with 1:52 to play. However, Converse called time out with 56 seconds left and set up a play for Jones, its top scorer and one of the league leaders. With 20 seconds to go, the senior from Lees Summit, Mo., made her move from the top of the arc, driving for the game-winning goal, her 10th of the day – a school record – and 72nd of the season.
The goal capped a day of scoring runs. Converse netted the first two goals of the match, then Barton tallied five of the next six to take a 5-3 advantage midway through the first half. The Valkyries scored four straight to grab a 7-5 lead, and held the same two-goal margin when Barton closed the period with four straight goals to take an 11-9 lead into intermission.
Converse scored the first goal of the second half, but Barton came right back with two more goals to take its biggest lead of the contest at 13-10 with 23:41 to go. However, the Valkyries rolled off the next four goals to regain the lead and set up the dramatic finish.
Rebecca Fraser recorded five assists, six draw controls and six groundballs, Torres registered five caused turnovers, and Mattena posted nine saves.
Converse took 29 shots to Barton's 27 and claimed 18 draw controls to BC's 15. Turnovers were close as well, with Barton committing 22 and the Valkyries 20.
Barton's league tournament match on Wednesday will be the second-year program's first appearance in the postseason.