Lindsey Pinkham (left) and Lauren Gifford (right) react after Pinkham nets the lone goal of the game. Devin Ingersoll (back) looks on. (PHOTO BY Maryellen Roche).
Second-seeded Skyhawks edge third-seeded American International to reach second-straight Final Four
Stonehill (16-6, 9-1 NE-10) advances to face top-seeded and newly crowned No. 1-ranked University of Massachusetts Lowell (22-0, 10-0 NE-10) for a national semifinal matchup on Thursday, December 2, at Trager Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville at 1 p.m. This year's field hockey championship rounds are being played as part of the NCAA Division II Fall Festival in Louisville, with Stonehill's field hockey team joining its men's and women's cross country teams at the event.
Senior midfielder Lindsey Pinkham (Skowhegan, Maine/Skowhegan Area) scored the lone goal of the match just 1:02 into the second half when she took a pass from the right side by freshman Devin Ingersoll (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry) and slotted in a low shot from three yards out in front of the goal. It marked her eighth goal of the year and second game-winning marker.
Senior Lindsey Pinkham, who scored the tying goal against AIC last week, netted the only goal of today's game, her eighth of the year. (PHOTO BY Maryellen Roche)
Senior goalkeeper Courtney Osier (South Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth) made two second-half saves to preserve the win and her seventh shutout of the season (18th career). She had plenty of help around her as well, with classmates Lauren Gifford (Goffstown, N.H./Goffstown) and Courtney Foley (Wakefield, Mass./Wakefield Memorial) each notching defensive saves in each half to go with strong defensive efforts from senior Laura Noce (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury) and freshman Gina Sheehan (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) as well.
"I thought our defense played great and it really propelled us for the goal we got," said Stonehill head coach Shelly Morris, in her third year at College. "We did a great job of counter attacking, but just didn't capitalize once we got it up field, but I thought the team played great, they were resilient and played with a lot of heart."
Junior Kim Steiner (Little Falls, N.Y./Little Falls) posted four saves in goal for American International who finished with an 11-8 advantage in shots for the contest and a 9-6 edge for penalty corners. Stonehill did have the edge in shots on goal, 5-4.
Gifford's team-leading third defensive save of the year came 7:05 before halftime on a shot by AIC senior Kat Heterbring (Java Center, N.Y./Pioneer Central) after her initial shot off a corner was blocked by Foley.
"(Lauren) is one of the best post players I have ever coached," said Morris. "She made a great save, her reaction (on defense) is amazing."
The Yellow Jackets had the opening possession in the second half, but Stonehill quickly gained possession. Ingersoll charged down the right side before sending a centering pass to Pinkham, who shielded Steiner before tucking her shot into an open net for the lone goal.
"I felt like we came out a little flat (in the first half) and started to play a little panicky," said Morris. "In the second half our passing game was amazing and the combination that created the goal was beautiful."
Foley cleared a shot by AIC leading scorer, junior Amanda McLean (Branford, Conn./Branford), off the line with 12:31 to play after Osier stopped her initial shot. The Yellow Jackets later saw a drive from the top of the arc by junior Linsey Fernandes (Ajax, Ontario) waived off for being too high with three minutes left in regulation.
AIC forced a corner as time expired, but a shot from Heterbring was well off the mark to clinch victory for Stonehill and send the Skyhawks to the Final Four for the second-straight year and third time in program history (2006, 2009 and 2010).
American International sees its season come to a close with a 14-8 record overall, including an 8-2 clip in NE-10 play, having earned its first NCAA Tournament bid in program history.