Late Smith Strike Lifts #6 Field Hockey Past #8 Pace, 4-3


Smith netted her ninth hat trick of the year, including the gamewinner with 1:50 remaining (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Smith's ninth hat trick of the season leads Skyhawks to 11th-straight win

EASTON, Mass. (October 21, 2017) – Junior All-American Kacie Smith (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood) capped her ninth hat trick of the season with 1:50 remaining in regulation to lift Stonehill College, ranked No. 6 in this week's Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II poll, to a 4-3 victory over No. 8 Pace University in Northeast-10 Conference field hockey action on Timothy J. Coughlin, '80 Memorial Field at W.B. Mason Stadium this afternoon.

Smith's ninth hat trick of the season gives her 91 points, adding to her NE10 and program single-season records and moving within 11 points of the NCAA Division II single-season mark of 102 points by Jamie Vanartsdalen from Bloomsburg (Pa.) University in 2008. Smith's three goals tonight give her 37 for the season, which leads all three levels of NCAA field hockey, to close within a goal of Erika Kelly '16's single-season program and NE10 record of 38 in 2013 and three goals shy of Vanartsdalen's NCAA II single-season mark of 40 in 2008. It marks Smith's tenth multi-goal game of the year and her 14th-straight game with a goal, having scored at least once in 15 of the Skyhawks' 16 games this year.

Senior Hannah Gifford (Goffstown, New Hampshire/Goffstown) celebrated her senior day with her second goal of the season. Prior to the game, Stonehill honored Gifford and her three senior teammates, Alexandra Dillon (Canton, Massachusetts/Canton), Alexandra Gerew (Woodstock, Connecticut/Pomfret School) and Alexandria Sylvia (Brockton, Massachusetts/Brockton), as well as team manager Emily Kelly.

Junior Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton) finished with five saves in the Stonehill goal as the Skyhawks held a 17-11 edge in shots and a 9-5 advantage in penalty corners for the contest. Senior Lesly Sanchez Alvarez (Stamford, Connecticut/Stamford) also posted five stops in the Pace cage.

Junior Samantha Gray (Greenlawn, New York/Harborfields) dished assists on two of Pace's three goals, scored by three different players. Setters goals were scored by junior Katrina Mikitish (Pittston, Pennsylvania/Pittston Area), sophomore Louisa Wegener (Hamburg, Germany) and freshman Lieke van Nieuwenhuizen (Utretcht, The Netherlands).

Smith's gamewinner with 1:50 remaining in regulation halted a three-goal comeback from Pace after Stonehill had staked out a three goal lead in the first half. The winner came on a counterattack as she carried the ball down the left side and cut across the cage, before slotting a low shot into the left side.

 
Gifford netted her second goal of the season in the first half on Senior Day. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Stonehill scored three times in a span of nine minutes midway through the first half to seemingly take control. Smith scored her first two goals of the contest to open the scoring, flipping in a rebound from close range at 14:09 and then added her second on a counter at 19:31. Gifford's second goal of the year put the Skyhawks up three at 23:13, one-timing a rebound into the left side.

Pace got on the board after time expired in the first half, with Wegener one-timing a redirection in front of the cage by Gray, following another corner, into an empty net for her first goal of the year. The Setters were back within a goal 1:59 into the second half as Mikitish knocked in a loose ball in front for her second goal of the year. Pace knotted the score just shy of the hour mark when van Nieuwenhiuzen tipped in a pass at the left post off a Gray cross for her fifth goal of the season.

Stonehill's win, coupled with No. 5 LIU Post's 3-2 loss at No. 4 Saint Anselm College this afternoon, seals a first round bye for the upcoming NE10 Tournament.

Stonehill (13-3, 10-0 NE10) closes out its three game home stand on Tuesday night, when it hosts No. 4 Saint Anselm College for its Purple & White Game at W.B. Mason Stadium at 7 p.m. Pace (13-3, 7-3 NE10) hosts Southern Connecticut State University on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.

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