BEVERLY, MASSACHUSETTS—St. Joe’s relinquished three straight goals in the first half alone when they took on Endicott on Wednesday night, Nov. 7. And despite doubling down on defense in the second half – and even notching the last point of the game – the Monks couldn’t forge a comeback, succumbing in the end 3-1.

“I felt we came out flat and we had trouble with our defensive marking in the circle and our own half of the field,” St. Joe’s head coach Rupert Lewis said by email. “I felt our team fell to the pressure of an NCAA tournament game, especially when we got scored on so quickly in first half of the game. However, we rebounded and won the second half of the game despite missing a penalty stroke.”

The loss knocked St. Joe’s from the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament: After compiling a 19-1 record across the fall and recently winning the Great Northeast Athletic Conference title, the Monks now retire till 2019.

St. Joe’s, of course, is in Standish. Local talent peppers the Monks roster. Molly Barr and Megan Baker both hail originally from Gorham, for instance, while Kayla Collins is a Windhamite and Maddie Corbett comes out of Sebago, having attended Bonny Eagle.

The Gulls’ first strike came on their first shot: Jaylin Grabeau put one past Baker, the St. Joe’s keeper, less than a minute in. Addi Williams added Endicott’s second midway through the half, then scored again roughly 14 minutes later.

“We knew they were a very good team that was explosive and had a good goal-scoring statistical average during their regular season,” Lewis said of Endicott. “Incidentally, the freshman who scored two goals, Addi Williams, was one of the recruits I tried recruiting for St. Joe’s.”

Emma Rutledge (Alfred) posted the Monks’ lone goal of the outing early in the second half, assisted by Arianna Kahler (Lisbon Falls). The moment seemed sufficient to send Endicott into defensive overdrive, though; the Gulls held the Monks scoreless for the rest of the game – and held them without a shot for the last 11 minutes. Still, St. Joe’s obviously cranked up their own defense as well, as the latter half largely went their way.

The Gulls put up 22 shots to the Monks’ 10 in the contest, including 12 shots on goal vs. the Monks’ four. Endicott also outpaced St. Joe’s on penalty corners, 8-7. Baker, the Monks’ standout goalie, hashed eight saves in the contest.

Baker is an impressive talent: The senior gave up very few goals all season long – indeed, she hashed shutout after shutout. Springfield was the only team to dig up much offense against her; Springfield bested St. Joe’s 4-0 back in mid-September.

“Three players who stood out were Emma Rutledge and Alexandra Belaire, as well as Megan Baker, our goalkeeper,” Lewis said, asked to pat a few of his ladies on the back.

The Monks’ 2018 proved a standout by any metric: The team set new single-season program records for wins, goals (95), assists (76), points (266), shots (487), shutouts (13), and goals-against average (.66).

“I felt we had an exceptional season and I am very proud of this team’s accomplishments and record,” Lewis said. “Our abrupt, season-ending game was not frustrating. In tournament play, if your team does not perform as expected, any opponent is capable of winning the contest. For example: In my first NCAA tournament appearance, we drew the No. 10 team in the country and were able to win that game because we wanted it more.”

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

The Monks, whose season came to a close recently, pose with their GNAC championship banner.

Photo courtesy of St. Joseph’s.