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Section II connections make UAlbany women's lacrosse a national power

The University at Albany women's lacrosse team keeps piling up goals.

The New Hampshire Wildcats were UAlbany's latest victim, as the No. 7-ranked Great Danes went on a 6-1 run in the second half to pull away for a 16-8 America East victory last Saturday at John Fallon Field.

Two Section II alumni provided nearly half of UAlbany's goals. Columbia High School graduate Rachael Burek scored four times, and Guilderland High School grad Nikki Branchini added a hat trick.

Our offense is evolving, said UAlbany coach John Battaglino. "As we do, teams try to do some things against us, and we adjust."

Branchini also came up big for UAlbany (3-0 league, 11-0 overall) on draw controls. The senior midfielder won five center-circle draws to help the Great Danes dominate the time of possession over New Hampshire (1-2, 6-6).

"I was just aggressive, and I love being near the ball," said Branchini, who has been UAlbany's top player on draw controls this season. "I've learned some techniques that help me get the ball."

Battaglino " a former Bethlehem Central High School girls lacrosse coach " said Branchini has been his most indispensable player.

"In terms of what she brings to the draw controls and in terms of what she brings in leadership, she's been my go-to girl," said Battaglino.

Leading scorer Taylor Frink had an off-day for UAlbany, as she found the back of the cage only once. However, she compensated by assisting on four other Great Danes goals to help her team beat New Hampshire for only the third time in 13 career meetings.

"There have been times where she's guarded by the other team's best defender, and I expect her to make adjustments," said Battaglino.

The thing that has allowed UAlbany to remain one of four undefeated NCAA Division I teams is that when one attacker struggles, other players step up. That held true again last Saturday as Jodi Battaglia, Amanda Pollock and Kathleen Lennon all tallied twice to compliment what Burek and Branchini did.

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