The Skyhawks were unable to get a shot past the Merrimack keeper. (PHOTO BY Bloomsburg Athletic Communications)
Warriors hold Skyhawks top-rated offense scoreless for first time in two years
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (November 20, 2015) – Second-seeded Merrimack College, ranked sixth in the final Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II poll, scored a second half goal off a corner and made it stand to claim a 1-0 victory over top-seeded and No. 4-ranked Stonehill College in semifinal round action of the 2015 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championship, hosted by Bloomsburg University, at Steph Pettit Stadium this afternoon.
The matchup of two of the top five offenses in Division II was decided by just one goal, with Merrimack junior Nicole Bradley (Essex, Massachusetts/Manchester Essex) providing the only score of the game off a penalty corner in the second half. Senior goalkeeper Madison Davis (San Jose, California/Branham) kept Stonehill scoreless for the first time in over two years with a seven save shutout effort. The Warriors held a 14-12 edge in shots and a 12-7 advantage for penalty corners in the matchup.
Freshman Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton) kept Stonehill in the game with eight saves, including five in a scoreless first half. The Skyhawks were shutout for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Merrimack on October 29, 2013 – snapping a string of 46 straight games with at least one goal.
Senior All-American Erika Kelly capped her career with 98 goals and 217 points. (PHOTO BY Bloomsburg Athletic Communications)
The loss also draws to a close the career of one of the top scorers in NCAA Division II history as senior All-American Erika Kelly (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown), the NE-10 Player of the Year and top scorer in Division II with 27 goals and 65 points this season, finishes with a Northeast-10 record 98 goals, ranking second all-time in Division II history. Kelly is one of just five players in Division II history with 200-plus points, finishing with a program-record 217, just two shy of the NE-10 record and good for third all-time in Division II history. Her 21 career assists rank seventh all-time in program history in 81 career games played.
Stonehill weathered a first half in which Merrimack posted a 9-4 advantage in shots and 8-2 break in penalty corners with the teams scoreless at the break. The Skyhawks forced a defensive save and Davis stop in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Warriors broke through on their first penalty corner of the half. Bradley potted her third goal of the season off a pass from the top of the circle by sophomore Taylor Simpson (York, Maine/York) following a corner pass by freshman Mary McNeil (Canton, Massachusetts/Canton) 15 minutes into the final half.
Stonehill controlled possession the rest of the way as it pushed for an equalizer. Kelly had an open bid that caromed off the cross bar in the 62nd minute. She forced two Davis stops and had another shot trickle wide over the final six minutes, but couldn't get the tying goal. The shutout was the fifth of the season for Davis, who was also in the cage for Merrimack's 1-0 shutout over Stonehill in 2013 in which she logged 11 stops.
Merrimack (16-5, 9-3 NE-10) advances to the national championship game for the first time in program history where it will face top-ranked East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University, the Atlantic Region's top seed, for the national title on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The Warriors advanced to Sunday's final with a 6-2 triumph over 3rd-ranked and third-seeded West Chester (Pa.) University in today's second semifinal. Stonehill caps its season with a 14-7 record overall, including 9-3 in the Northeast-10, having captured a second-straight NE-10 Tournament championship and seventh NCAA Tournament bid with its fifth national semifinal appearance.