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Sports

Field Hockey Defeats Bucknell, Improves to 8-2

Laszlo JulieThe Hawks entered the week ranked as the number 14 team in the country in the NCAA Rating Percentage Index (RPI), which measures a team based on wins and losses and its strength of schedule. Once again Monmouth was home to the MAAC Offensive and Defensive Players of the week with junior forward Meg Donahue and junior defender Julie Laszlo earning the rewards respectively.

The Monmouth University field hockey team continued to impress as they improved this weekend to a record of 8-2 and hold on to their lead in the MAAC. The Hawks went 1-1 overall with a loss to Drexel on Friday and a victory over Bucknell on Sunday. 

Drexel got off to a hot start in the game burying a goal within the first two minutes. Monmouth was able to answer with a goal by freshman forward Josephine van der Hoop, who was named MAAC Rookie of the Week, when she tied up the game six minutes later. From there the game would continue as a stalemate until the Dragons were able to score on a corner shot right as time expired before the half.

Coming out of the half Drexel added another goal, again within two minutes of the start and extended their lead by two. Sophomore mid-fielder Gab Girardi scored her first goal of the season at the 44:29 mark making it 3-2. However it was all Drexel from there and they would tally the final two goals of the game and walk off the field with the 5-2 win.

“Drexel came out with a fantastic game plan,” Head Coach Carli Figlio said. “They outplayed us to every ball. We are going to look to regroup and clean up some things as we get ready for Sunday.”

Regroup they did and on Sunday afternoon, the Blue and White were able to record their fifth shutout of the season and first victory over Bucknell since 2004, blanking the Bison 2-0. With the win the Hawks improved to a record of 8-2 while the Bison dropped to 4-4.

Goals by van der Hoop and sophomore forward Elyssa Okken and a stellar performance by junior goalie Christen Piersanti and the defense enabled the Hawks to end the weekend with a hard fought win.

The first half of the game featured Bucknell recording most of the scoring chances. The majority of the chances came off of corners that were well defended by Monmouth. The Hawks defense withstood a total of 14 penalty corners with six of them occurring within the first half.

“I think that we really practiced a lot of it during the week and have been focusing on shifting and moving together to defend the cage,” senior mid-fielder Alyssa Ercolino said on the team’s ability to defend the corners.

The Hawks came out the half looking to make some adjustments to try and change things up. Figlio spoke on those adjustments at half time.

“We struggled out-letting the ball. Their press was pretty good so we adjusted something in our out- letting to get the ball out of our backfield,” Figlio said. “Also we used small passes to create two-on-one up the field because their defense was too solid.”

Those changes clearly worked as Monmouth broke through in the 50th minute with a goal by van der Hoop assisted by sophomore forward Kelly Hanna on a crossing pass. The Hawks quickly followed up with another score 40 seconds later. This time it was Okken, assisted by none other than van der Hoop, on a fast break goal off a Bucknell turnover to end the scoring.

“It is really nice (to contribute). I never thought I would be such a big part of this team. I never expected it and I am so happy I can help the team score twice today,” van der Hoop said.

This was the ninth shutout for Piersanti in her career and she made eight saves in the win. Also of note, Monmouth was able to go 3-0 against the Patriot League with victories against Lehigh, Lafayette and Bucknell.

“I am really happy that we were able to bounce back from Friday’s game. I thought we held really strong on our defensive corner unit and it was great to see Elyssa and Josephine able to connect on the forward line; I think they both brought a lot of attack. But it was an overall complete team win,” said Figlio.

The Hawks are back in action on Sunday, Oct. 2 when they close out non-conference play at noon against Cornell.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University Athletics

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