Senior Lindsey Pinkham celebrates her winning goal in Stonehill's 1-0 first round win over American International with classmate Lauren Gifford (right) and freshman Devin Ingersoll (back) who assisted on the play. (PHOTO BY Maryellen Roche)
Second-seeded Skyhawks and top-seeded River Hawks set to square off in NCAA national semifinals for second-straight year
Admission to Thursday's semifinal match to be hosted at Trager Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville will be $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students with proper ID. All session passes (good for all sessions for all sports competing at the Fall Festival) are $25.00 for adults and $10.00 for students with ID. All three games of the field hockey championship will be webcast live via www.ncaa.com with links also available via www.stonehillskyhawks.com, official website of Stonehill athletics.
No. 3-ranked and four-time defending national champions Bloomsburg University (19-2, 7-1 PSAC) and No. 2-ranked Shippensburg University (20-1, 8-0 PSAC), the top two seeds from the South Region, will square off in Thursday's second semifinal at 4 p.m. The two semifinal round winners will compete for the National Championship on Saturday at Trager Stadium at 1:30 p.m. All four teams competing at this year's final four were present at last year's championship rounds hosted by Stonehill.
Stonehill (16-6, 9-1 NE-10) advanced to the national semifinals for the second-straight year and third time overall with its 1-0 victory over third-seeded and No. 7-ranked American International College in a first round matchup last Tuesday at W.B. Mason Stadium. Senior Lindsey Pinkham (Skowhegan, Maine/Skowhegan Area) scored the lone goal 1:02 into the second half and classmate Courtney Osier (South Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth) made two second half saves to preserve her seventh shutout of the season. The Skyhawks also got a strong defensive performance from senior Lauren Gifford (Goffstown, N.H./Goffstown) with a key defensive save in the first half to keep the match scoreless and freshman Devin Ingersoll (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry) assisted on Pinkham's goal. UMass Lowell (22-0, 10-0 NE-10) earned a first round bye to reach the semifinal round for the eighth-straight year.
Senior Courtney Foley and the defense will need to be at the top of its game against the high-scoring River Hawks on Thursday. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
UMass Lowell (22-0, 10-0 NE-10) and Stonehill are ranked one/two among Northeast-10 leaders in most team statistical categories. The River Hawks have conceded just seven goals in 22 games this season to lead the NE-10 with a 0.32 goals against average (1st nationally) and 16 shutouts (1st), with the Skyhawks second with a 1.53 team goals against average (7th) and eight shutouts (5th) in 22 contests. UML has scored 113 goals, more than double anyone else in the NE-10, leading the Conference with 5.14 goals per game (1st), with Stonehill fifth with 2.23 goals per game (11th). The teams are also one/two in the NE-10 with 11.82 (UML) and 11.77 (STO) penalty corners per game, ranking third and fourth nationally, respectively.
Senior back Courtney Foley (Wakefield, Mass./Wakefield Memorial), the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, keys the Stonehill defensive effort and has also contributed a team-best seven assists (8th NE-10) to go with six goals for 19 points, ranking second on the team with three game-winning goals while adding two defensive saves. Gifford and classmate Laura Noce (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury) are also key members of the defense along with freshmen Gina Sheehan (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) and Kelsey Davis (Gardner, Mass./Gardner), a pair of NE-10 All-Rookie team selections. Gifford has posted a team-best four defensive saves (6th) while chipping in on offense with a team-high seven assists (8th) and a goal for nine points.
Osier has played all but 41:56 in the Stonehill cage this season, posting a 1.48 goals against average (2nd NE-10) and .746 save percentage (8th) with seven shutouts (2nd) while averaging 4.3 saves per game in 1,518:05 played.
Junior Kathryn Nelson is just one goal shy of matching the program's single-season record of 20 and would love to tie that mark on Thursday. (PHOTO BY Shane Bufano)
Junior Kathryn Nelson (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) leads the Stonehill offensive attack with 19 goals (3rd NE-10) and three assists for 41 points (5th), including a Conference best nine game-winning goals. The second team All-Conference pick enters Thursday's semifinal just a goal shy of the program's single-season record of 20 set by former teammate and All-American Claire Hourihan in 2008 and matched in 2009. Pinkham, a two-time All-NE-10 selection with her first team honor this fall, is second on the team with eight goals and six assists for 22 points.
Stonehill has also gotten key contributions from junior Laura Menke (Greenland, N.H./St. Thomas Aquinas) with five goals and two assists for 12 points and Ingersoll with three goals and six assists for 12 points.
UMass Lowell, which is seeking its fourth-straight trip to the national championship game and captured the national title in 2005, is led by a high-scoring trio of seniors in Sammy Macy (Tewksbury, Mass./Tewksbury), Katie Enaire (Amesbury, Mass./Amesbury) and NE-10 Player of the Year Liz Day (North Andover, Mass./North Andover), all three first team All-Conference selections. Macy leads the NE-10 with a school-record 75 points (1st nationally) on 30 goals (2nd) and 15 assists (2nd NE-10), including seven game-winning markers (2nd NE-10). Enaire is second to Macy among NE-10 leaders with 63 points (3rd nationally) and 28 goals (3rd) while adding seven assists (8th NE-10) with five game-winners (4th). Day has added 12 goals (7th NE-10) and 14 assists (3rd) for 38 points (7th), with three game-winners.
Freshman Melanie Hopkins (Harwich, Mass./Harwich), the NE-10 Goalkeeper of the Year, has shined in her first collegiate season, yielding just seven goals in 1,480:40 in 22 starts for a Division II-best 0.33 goals against average, .913 save percentage and 15 shutouts.
Senior Lauren Gifford leads the team with four defensive saves this fall after her key clear in last week's 1-0 win over AIC. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
Senior Jaime Hadley (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) and junior Annie Hansbury (Plaistow, N.H./Timberlane Regional), a pair of All-Northeast-10 picks, lead the River Hawks defensive unit in front of Hopkins. Hadley is also third on the team with 11 assists (4th NE-10) to go with two goals for 15 points, while Hansbury has chipped in with four goals and nine assists for 17 points.
Thursday will mark the fourth meeting of the year between these two Northeast-10 rivals – the second in postseason play. UMass Lowell has won all three of the previous meetings this season by an aggregate score of 14-1 after rolling to a 6-1 triumph in the NE-10 championship match on November 20 in Lowell. The River Hawks have won each of the last four meetings between the two dating back to a 2-1 triumph in last year's national semifinal at W.B. Mason Stadium in Easton, Mass. UML also notched a pair of 4-0 victories in the regular season this fall over Stonehill and have handed the Skyhawks each of their last four losses overall, a stretch which has seen Stonehill post a 15-3 record since opening the year with a 1-3 clip.
Enaire has led UMass Lowell with five goals and an assist for 11 points in the three games so far this season against Stonehill. Macy has posted four goals and an assist for nine points, while Day has chipped in with a goal and three assists for five points. Hopkins has averaged 5.7 saves per game in the series, yielding just one goal in 201:27. Menke has scored the lone goal for Stonehill against the River Hawks this season, that coming in the second half of the NE-10 Championship game, while Osier has averaged eight saves and allowed 12 goals in 196:10.
UMass Lowell has averaged 21 shots (13.7 on goal) and 10.7 penalty corners in the three wins over Stonehill, while the Skyhawks have averaged 11.3 shots (6.3 on goal) and 7.3 corners.
Field Hockey Championship
Tuesday, November 23
#3 Bloomsburg 5, #4 East Stroudsburg 2
#5 Stonehill 1, #7 American International 0
Thursday, December 2
Trager Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
#5 Stonehill (16-6) vs. #1 UMass Lowell (22-0), 1 p.m.
#3 Bloomsburg (18-2) vs. #2 Shippensburg (20-1), 4 p.m.
Saturday, December 4
Trager Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
Semifinals winners, 1:30 p.m.