Field Hockey Wins MAAC Title for First Time

Will Host Princeton on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 1 pm for NCAA Tournament

Field-Hockey2Among one of field hockey’s largest audiences at So Sweet A Cat Field, the Hawks made history over the weekend. The blue and white defeated Sacred Heart University, 2-1, in the semi-finals and Rider University in the finals, 6-1, to become the 2014 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champions.

Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers kicked off the weekend quest. The fourth- seeded Pioneers reached the semi-finals with a MAAC record of 3-2, while the first seed Hawks had a record of 4-1.

The Hawks brought momentum from the first whistle, outshooting Sacred Heart 6-2. It was in the 16th minute that MU lit up the scoreboard. Senior forward Trish O’Dwyer crossed the ball into the circle to fellow senior forward Amanda Schoenfeld for her 13th goal of the year.

Just eight minutes later, MU sophomore Alyssa Ercolino connected with freshman Julie Laszlo on an insert play. Laszlo’s shot deflected off of the stick of Sacred Heart’s defense and into cage. As the clock winded down, SHU midfielder Liz Bergman rebounded a loose ball at MU goalkeeper Christen Piersanti but was denied in a diving save. The Hawks finished the half with a 2-0 lead.

The second half was a back and forth battle between both teams. Both offenses attempted three corners but could not capitalize. It was in the 67th minute that the Pioneers drew a foul in the MU defensive circle. Liz Bergman fired in a penalty stroke to make the final score. The Hawks walked away with the victory, leading into Sunday’s championship final.

It was a matter of revenge on Sunday, Nov. 9 as the Hawks took on Rider University. On Friday, Oct. 17, the Rider Broncs defeated the Hawks 1-0 handing the Hawks one of their seven regular season losses.

The blue and white came ready to play, outshooting the Broncs 10-1 in the first half. In the 18th minute of play, O’Dwyer crossed the ball to Schoenfeld for a far post finish. Ten minutes later, Schoenfeld drew in the Rider goalkeeper, and then pushed it off to O’Dwyer for a clean shot on goal. With a 2-0 lead, the Schoenfeld- O’Dwyer duo created a 2-v-1 scenario which ultimately secured Schoenfeld a hat trick.

“Schoenfeld and I have worked so hard from the beginning. When we are on the field we don’t even need to talk. We know exactly where the other is going to be. It’s amazing to do it together. I am so proud of every girl on this team, every coach, and every person who has helped build this program to what it is today,” O’Dwyer said.

As the second half was underway and MU held a 3-0 lead, it became apparent that Rider was hungry for a goal. Alsina Clotet powered through the MU defense for the Broncs to put her team on the board and narrow MU’s lead to two. But in the 44th minute, O’Dwyer sent in another cross during a corner play to Schoenfeld for a rocket shot into the net. Ten minutes later, freshman Maartje Wicherink solely faced the Rider defense and fired a reverse shot goal, adding to the Hawks’ tally.

MU finalized the score at 6-1 when O’Dwyer earned her 18th goal of the season with a backhanded shot, through the legs of the Rider MAAC co-Goalkeeper of the Year, Joelle Prettyman.

MU goalkeeper, freshman Christen Piersanti, earned her 12th win of the year, only seeing four shots. Schoenfeld and O’Dwyer combined for a total of 14 points in Sunday’s match. O’Dwyer also surpassed Michelle Pieczynski’s all-time leading record of points (136) for MU. The record, now set by O’Dwyer, stands at 141 points.

With their MAAC title, the field hockey team now advances to the NCAA tournament, a first in program history. The Hawks are set to face Princeton on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 1 pm on So Sweet A Cat Field. This game will mark the fifth time MU Athletics has hosted an NCAA event, the most recent being in 2011 by men’s soccer.

PHOTO COURTESY of Taylor Jackson