Senior All-American Erika Kelly scored the gamewinning goal in the second half. (PHOTO BY Eamonn Grealish)
Kelly's second half stroke the difference as Skyhawks head to semifinals
EASTON, Mass. (November 3, 2015) – Fourth-seeded Stonehill College, ranked tenth in this week's Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II poll, opened defense of its Northeast-10 Conference Tournament title with a 2-1 triumph over fifth-seeded and No. 9-ranked Saint Anselm College in first round action of the NE-10 Tournament at Timothy J. Coughlin '80 Memorial Field at W.B. Mason Stadium tonight.
Stonehill (12-6, 9-3 NE-10) advances to Friday's NE-10 semifinal round for the third straight year, where it will visit top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Adelphi University (14-4, 10-2 NE-10) at a time to be announced. Saint Anselm sees its season come to a close with a 15-4 record overall, including 9-3 in NE-10 play.
Stonehill posted a 22-7 advantage for shots in the contest, including 13-1 in the first half, while holding an 8-4 edge in penalty corners. Freshman Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton) made four second half saves to preserve the win for the Skyhawks, while junior Katherine Sears (Northboro, Massachusetts/Algonquin) kept Saint Anselm in the contest with 11 stops, including eight in the first half.
Freshman Kacie Smith scored the opening goal and then was fouled to create the penalty stroke try. (PHOTO BY Eamonn Grealish)
Senior All-American Erika Kelly (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown) and freshman Kacie Smith (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood) provided the scoring punch for Stonehill. Sophomore Jamie McNamara (Auburn, Massachusetts/Auburn) netted a goal for Saint Anselm.
Smith gave Stonehill, the top offense in Division II, an early edge against one of the NE-10's top defensive teams when she knocked in a rebound at the left post just 2:23 into the contest for her 13th goal of the season. Kelly had the initial shot, which Sears knocked down with her arm pad, but Smith was in position on the post to push the ball past the sprawling Hawks defenders for the go ahead goal.
McNamara and Sears sent Saint Anselm into halftime on level terms with their play. Sears posted eight first half saves to keep Stonehill off the board the remainder of the half and then the Hawks equalized at 18:45 when senior Meagan Halligan (North Branford, Connecticut/North Branford) slipped a pass around Freedman to McNamara for an open net goal.
Stonehill regained the lead in a much more evenly played second half when she converted a penalty stroke for her 23rd goal of the season (94th career). The Skyhawks were awarded the stroke when Smith had broken through the Saint Anselm defense and was upended in the scoring area by a charging Sears. Stonehill appeared to get a vital insurance goal from senior All-American Elizabeth Thornton (Needham, Massachusetts/Needham) with under three minutes to play off a corner, but it was waved off for a foul.