- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 09 November 2016
- Written by CHRIS FITZSIMMONS | STAFF WRITER
The University’s field hockey team secured the 2016 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship. The title did not come easily for the Hawks as it was secured by winning back-to-back double overtime games over the Rider Broncs on Friday afternoon and the Fairfield Stags on Sunday morning.
Friday afternoon’s 3-2 double overtime victory over the Broncs did not come easy. A scoreless first half featured only five shots combined with both teams playing tough defense. Monmouth’s freshman stand out, forward Josephine van der Hoop broke open the scoring two minutes into the second half with a slick reverse shot goal.
Rider swiftly answered with a reverse shot goal of their own about three minutes later and the game was all knotted up. The game would remain tied until the 56th minute when a van der Hoop crossing pass was tipped in by a diving sophomore forward Kelly Hanna. However, a winner would not be decided in regulation as Rider sent the game into overtime on a thrilling corner goal with time expired.
Monmouth ratcheted up their attack in the first overtime, registering 10 shots to Rider’s zero. The Broncs returned the favor in the second overtime, firing off five shots within the first five minutes. However the Hawks were the ones who came up with the winning shot, once again it was the sprawling Hanna scoring off a pass from junior forward Meg Donahue.
“My first thought was to dive, to give everything I have to put that ball in the cage. I really was not thinking too much when it was happening, I just went for it,” Hanna said about the game-winning goal. “We had been working hard all week and knew we had to give it 110 percent this game.”
Sunday’s Championship faceoff against Fairfield was another arduous affair for Monmouth. Following Friday’s grueling game the Hawks would soar to victory, winning the MAAC Championship 3-2 over the Stags. The Hawks were tested both emotionally and physically on their path to victory as the games did not come without complications.
A first half featured Monmouth leading in the shot department but with nothing to show for it. About 15 minutes into the second half, it was none other junior defender Julie Laszlo who initiated scoring on an assist from junior midfielder Rachel Konowal.
Fairfield would answer quickly and score two goals in two minutes and the Hawks found themselves down 2-1 with 20 minutes to go. For the first time since Sept. 23, the Hawks found themselves trailing and having to mount a comeback. Monmouth applied the pressure ripping off shot after shot with none finding the back of the net.
The season came down to one last corner opportunity and with the goalie pulled and crowd cheering, sophomore defender Georgia Garden Bachop answered. With ten seconds left on the clock for she tipped in a Julie Laszlo shot to send the thrilling game into overtime.
Fairfield’s defense stood tall in the first overtime following a barrage of opportunities including a big time save on a penalty stroke. The Hawks were faced with an adverse situation in the second overtime as Hanna received a yellow card. After successfully defending a player down, the Hawks earned another golden corner shot opportunity.
The exhilarating game reached its conclusion when senior forward Alyssa Ercolino won it by deflecting a Juile Laszlo shot into the net.
“It is amazing, it is the icing on the cake,” Ercolino said on her goal and the team’s win. “The team has been working so incredibly hard over the years to reach this point and to finish out the year like that is awesome.”
Monmouth had to withstand two grueling double overtime games to win it all and Coach Carli Figlio offered her thoughts on the heart her team showed on their path to the victory. “Honestly, I have said it a few times this year. We prepared so well physically in the summer that we were able to do this. I really do not think that if the girls did not put so much emphases on coming in fit and ready that we would win these overtime games. I mean it is a physically and emotionally exhausting experience, but the girls wanted it so bad.”
With the win the Hawks earn the right to play in the NCAA tournament for the second time in team history. Following the game Casey Hanna was named MAAC Championship’s Most Valuable Player and Laszlo, Ercolino and Kelly Hanna were named to the All-Tournament team.
The Hawks will host The University of Massachusetts in an NCAA Tournament Play-In Game today at “So Sweet A Cat” Field at 1 p.m. The winner will take on Nov. 2 seed Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 12.
PHOTO COURTESY of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.