Field Hockey Reaches NEC Championship, Falls to Rider

The field hockey team proved all of its doubters wrong and finished the season on a very strong note by making it to the Northeast Conference Championship where they fell to the top seed Rider University.

The Hawks finished up the regular season with a visit to Rider. MU lost 5-2. Rider got on the board first with a goal within the first ten minutes. Both teams then exchanged goals for a bit, leaving it at a 3-2 lead for Rider at the end of the first half.

Rider was able to contain MU for the entire second half, scoring two goals and holding the Hawks to no goals. 

Overall, Rider dominated the matchup, leading in shots 15-9 and leading in penalty corners 23-5.

Despite the loss in the regular season finale, the Hawks qualified for the NEC Tournament. The Hawks were awarded the third seed, and faced off against St. Francis (PA) in the first round of the tournament.

It was St. Francis who struck first, with a goal in the 15th minute to take the early lead. After that, it was all MU. The Hawks scored three goals in the first half to take a 3-1 lead at the break. The second half would end up being scoreless as the Hawks held on for a 3-1 victory.

Goalie Teresa Mathews allowed only one goal on five saves. Both teams were dead even on shot attempts with ten, and St. Francis led on penalty corners 14-8. Despite that, the Hawks were able to seal the victory in order to move on to the NEC Championship game.

The championship game proved to be a nail-biter. It was played at Rider’s home field, just like every other game in the tournament. The home field advantage for Rider would end up aiding them a lot.

The game was scoreless until the 28th minute when Rider scored off of a corner. The game would remain 1-0 going into halftime.

The Blue and White scored two early goals in the second half to take a 2-1 lead. The first one was by Amanda Schoenfeld on a rebound off of a corner. The second goal was by Alex Carroll off of a corner. In the 59th minute, Rider tied the game up, and then took the lead back only three minutes later. The 3-2 lead was preserved for the final eight minutes of the match and Rider came out on top for the championship victory.

Head coach Carli Figlio and the team have plenty to be proud of for making a big turnaround in the second half of the season to make it to the NEC tournament. The Hawks started the season at 0-8, including a pair of losses to top-ten nationally ranked teams. They then won seven of their final 11 games, including five wins against conference opponents to qualify them for the NEC Tournament.

Overall this season, Michelle Pieczynski put on a show, breaking school records and dominating matches. She had 41 points total this season, including 18 goals and five assists. Pieczynski was the offensive leader all season, and put herself in the discussion as the best player in the conference. At the end of the season, she was named the NEC Player of the Year as well as the NEC Offensive Player of the Year.

Trish O’Dwyer and Carroll also joined Pieczynski on the All Northeast Conference First Team.

All the Hawks can do now is learn from their mistakes and move on and get ready for next fall.