#5 Stonehill Hosts #7 American International for NCAA First Round Battle

Stonehill Spotlight with Laura Noce
Coach's Corner with Shelly Morris

Second-seeded Skyhawks seek second-straight final four appearance

EASTON, Mass. (November 22, 2010) – Second-seeded Stonehill College, ranked fifth in the most recent Kookaburra/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II poll, will be attempting to reach the national semifinals for the second-straight year and third time in program history overall when it hosts third-seeded and No. 7-ranked American International College for first round action of the 2010 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championships at W.B. Mason Stadium on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Admission to tomorrow's game will be $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for students and senior citizens. Live stats will be available via www.stonehillskyhawks.com. The winner of tomorrow's first round battle will advance to the NCAA Division II semifinals in Louisville, Ky., and face top-seeded and No. 2-ranked University of Massachusetts Lowell (22-0, 10-0 NE-10) on Thursday, December 2, at 4 p.m. The final four will be played at Trager Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville as part of the NCAA Division II Fall Festival.

Stonehill (15-6, 9-1 NE-10) is making its fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and second in a row after earning a first round bye and serving as hosts for the 2009 NCAA Championships last fall. Previous NCAA bids for the Skyhawks came in 2005, 2006 and 2009, reaching the semifinals in both 2006 and 2009. Tomorrow will mark the NCAA Tournament debut for American International after making its first ever postseason appearance in last week's Northeast-10 Conference Tournament.

Junior Kathryn Nelson looks to match the program's single-season goal scoring record tomorrow, leading the team with 19 goals. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Tomorrow marks the third meeting of the year between these two programs – the second in postseason play. Stonehill claimed a dramatic 2-1 overtime triumph over American International in Friday's semifinal round of the NE-10 Tournament, scoring both goals after 70 minutes of regulation had expired. Senior Lindsey Pinkham (Skowhegan, Maine/Skowhegan Area) netted the tying goal off a second corner after regulation to force overtime where junior Kathryn Nelson (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) scored her third overtime winner of the year 3:36 into the extra frame. Junior Kim Steiner (Little Falls, N.Y./Little Falls) posted an amazing 17 saves for the Yellow Jackets, including 15 after halftime, while classmate Amanda McLean (Branford, Conn./Branford) opened the scoring just 1:30 into the contest. The Skyhawks notched a 2-0 regular season win over the Yellow Jackets at W.B. Mason Stadium in mid-October.

Stonehill enters tomorrow's NCAA Tournament matchup winners of 12 of its last 14, with both losses coming to UMass Lowell, including a tough 6-1 setback to the River Hawks in Saturday's NE-10 Championship. Senior Courtney Foley (Wakefield, Mass./Wakefield Memorial), the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, spearheads a defensive unit which ranks second in the NE-10 with a 1.60 team goals against average (7th nationally) and seven shutouts (2nd), while limiting opponents to just ten shots per game, including 6.1 per game on goal. Foley also ranks third on the team with 19 points on a team-high matching seven assists (8th NE-10) and six goals, including three gamewinning markers (6th). She has also chipped in with one defensive save this fall.

Classmates Laura Noce (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury) and freshmen Kelsey Davis (Gardner, Mass./Gardner) and Gina Sheehan (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury), a pair of NE-10 All-Rookie team selections, have also played key roles on the defensive unit.

Nelson and Pinkham lead the offensive attack for Stonehill. Nelson, a second team All-NE-10 selection this fall, leads Stonehill with 41 points (5th NE-10) and 19 goals (3rd) to go with three assists, and enters tomorrow's game just a goal shy of the program's single-season record of 20 set by former teammate Claire Hourihan in 2008, which she also matched in 2009. Nelson leads the NE-10 with nine gamewinning goals this fall, three of which have come in overtime including Friday's winner over AIC.

Senior Lauren Gifford leads the Skyhawks on the offensive and defensive end. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Pinkham, a two-time All-Conference honoree with her first team selection this year, is second on the team with 20 points on seven goals and six assists, netting one gamewinning goal. She is also Stonehill's primary corner passer, with the Skyhawks leading the NE-10 with 12.05 penalty corners per game (3rd nationally) after leading all of Division II in 2009.

Freshman Devin Ingersoll (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry), the NE-10 Rookie of the Year, has chipped in with 11 points having scored three goals (one gamewinner) to go with five assists. Senior Lauren Gifford (Goffstown, N.H./Goffstown) shares the team lead with seven assists (8th) to go with a goal for nine points.

Senior Courtney Osier (South Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth) has played all but 41:56 in the Stonehill goal this season and has posted a 1.55 goals against average (2nd NE-10) and .742 save percentage (9th) with six shutouts (2nd) in 1,448:05.

American International makes its NCAA Tournament debut after winning a program record 14 games this season. The Yellow Jackets rank third in the NE-10 with a 1.62 team goals against average and are third in scoring at 2.33 goals per game.

McLean leads AIC with 19 goals (3rd NE-10) and five assists for 43 points (3rd), netting six gamewinning goals (3rd). Senior Rhonwen Peters (Aquashicola, Pa./Palmerton) is next on the team with six goals and four assists for 16 points, while junior Linsey Fernandes (Ajax, Ontario/Notre Dame Catholic) shares the team lead with five assists.

Steiner has seen the majority of work in the cage for the Yellow Jackets and has posted a 1.56 GAA (4th NE-10) and .843 save percentage (2nd) with a shutout while averaging 8.30 saves per game (6th) in 1,392:50 played.

In tomorrow's other NCAA first round matchup from the South Region, four-time defending national champions Bloomsburg University, seeded second and ranked third nationally, are hosting third-seeded and No. 4-ranked East Stroudsburg University at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to face top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Shippensburg University in a national semifinal in Louisville on December 2 at 1 p.m.

2010 NCAA Division II
Field Hockey Championship
First Round
Tuesday, November 23
#4 East Stroudsburg (17-5) at #3 Bloomsburg (18-2), 2 p.m.
#7 American International (14-7) at #2 Stonehill (15-6), 3 p.m.
Thursday, December 2
Trager Stadium, Louisville, Ky. 
AIC/Stonehill winner vs. #2 UMass Lowell (22-0), 1 p.m.
ESU/Bloomsburg winner vs. #1 Shippensburg (20-1), 4 p.m.
National Championship
Saturday, December 4
Trager Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
Semifinals winners, 1:30 p.m.