Smith enters tomorrow's NCAA First Round a goal from breaking the Division II mark. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
Skyhawks need to break three-game downturn to reach sixth national semifinal
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (November 10, 2017) – Sixth-seeded Stonehill College, ranked No. 7 in this week's Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II poll, opens its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance with a date at third-seeded and No. 3-ranked Shippensburg University, the reigning NCAA Division II National Champions in first round action at Robb Sports Complex on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Admission for Saturday's game is $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for students and senior citizens and $2.00 for children aged five and under. A free live video webcast will streamed through shipraiders.com, with links to the webcast as well as live stats also available via stonehillskyhawks.com.
Stonehill (13-6, 10-2 NE10), making its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and ninth in program history overall, seeks to reach the national semifinals for the sixth time, which will be hosted by Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, November 17-19. The Skyhawks have also earned NCAA bids in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, reaching the national semifinals in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015. Stonehill fell to NE10 rival Saint Anselm College, 3-1, in last year's first round, and still seeks its first national championship game appearance. Shippensburg (14-4, 9-1 PSAC) is the defending National Champions, having defeated NE10 member LIU Post, 2-1, in last year's National Championship game, hosted by Stonehill at W.B. Mason Stadium. The Raiders, who also captured a National Championship in 2013, are in the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in program history. Saturday marks Stonehill's sixth first round match in program history, posting a 2-3 record all-time in first round contests.
The winner of Saturday's first round matchup will advance to the NCAA Division II Championships, hosted by Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, November 17-19. The national semifinals will be played at Owsley B. Frazier Stadium on the Bellarmine campus on Friday, November 17, at 10 a.m., and 1 p.m. The national championship game will be played at Trager Stadium, on the campus of the University of Louisville, on Sunday, November 19, at 11 a.m. Saturday's other first round matchup features fifth-seeded and No. 6-ranked Millersville (Pa.) University (14-5, 8-2 PSAC) at fourth-seeded and No. 5-ranked Saint Anselm College (17-2, 11-1 NE10) in Manchester, New Hampshire, at 1 p.m. Overall top-seed LIU Post (18-3, 9-3 NE10), ranked No. 2 nationally, and top-ranked, but second-seeded East Stroudsburg University (17-4, 8-2 PSAC) both earned first round byes and await Saturday's winners in the national semifinal round. The Stonehill/Shippensburg winner will draw East Stroudsburg next Friday at 10 a.m.
Freedman is nine saves away from the program's career record (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
Stonehill enters its third-straight NCAA Tournament under third-year head coach Susan Cuifo aiming to right the ship after three-straight defeats following a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Assumption College in the NE10 semifinals last Friday. The Greyhounds scored the only goal of the night with just 28-seconds to play at W.B. Mason Stadium. The Skyhawks also dropped one-goal decisions to fellow NCAA participants Saint Anselm (3-2) at home and at LIU Post (2-1) to close out the regular season after winning 11-straight, including their first ten NE10 games of the year.
Stonehill boasts the top offense in Division II, averaging 4.44 goals per game, while ranking fourth nationally and third in the NE10 for scoring margin (+2.50 gpg) and eighth in the NE10 with a 2.00 team goals against average, with six shutouts (5th NE10). The Skyhawks are also averaging 6.5 penalty corners per game.
Stonehill's attack is led by junior All-American Kacie Smith (Norwood, Massachusetts/Norwood), the two-time NE10 Player of the Year and reigning NFHCA Region Player of the Year, who leads all three levels of NCAA field hockey in goals and points, while leading Division II with her program-record 17 assists this fall. She has matched the NCAA Division II record with 40 goals set by Bloomsburg (Pa.) University's Jamie Vanartsdalen in 2008; while her NE10 record 97 points are five shy of Vanartsdalen's Division II scoring record of 102 points in 2008. Smith, a two-time All-NE10 first team selection, has scored at least a goal in 17 of the Skyhawks 19 games this season, with 11 multi-goal games and nine hat tricks, netting a career-best four goals on three occasions.
Smith is accompanied by a pair of fellow All-NE10 selections, including junior Carly Andersen (Cheshire, Connecticut/Canterbury School), a second team honoree, who is second on the team in scoring with 13 goals and three assists for 29 points, ranking fifth in the NE10 and 12th nationally in goals and tenth in the Conference in scoring (19th nationally). Sophomore Michaela Antonellis (Watertown, Massachusetts/Watertown) earned first team All-NE10 honors this fall, having contributed four goals and four assists for 12 points on the offensive end, while leading the defensive unit with three defensive saves.
Senior Alexandria Sylvia (Brockton, Massachusetts/Brockton) is third on the team in scoring with eight goals and four assists for 20 points, while classmate Alexandra Dillon (Canton, Massachusetts/Canton) has also dished out four assists for the Skyhawks, while a key member of the defensive unit, along with freshman Elaine Bachelder (South Berwick, Maine/Marshwood), an NE10 All-Rookie Team honoree.
Andersen is second on the team in scoring. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
Junior Sara Freedman (Hopkinton, Massachusetts/Hopkinton) has played all but 18-minutes in the Stonehill goal this season, posting a 2.03 goals against average and .758 save percentage, with 6.3 saves per game and five shutouts in 1,311:36. She enters tomorrow's game just nine saves shy of Cindy Pulz '03's Stonehill career record of 356 saves from 1999-2002.
Shippensburg enters the NCAA Tournament looking to turn a first round matchup into a National Championship for the second-straight year. The PSAC regular season champions dropped a 1-0 decision to eventual champions West Chester University in the PSAC Semifinals in its last outing a week ago. The Raiders average a Division II-high 13.1 penalty corners per game, resulting in a PSAC-high 3.56 goals per game (5th nationally) and yielding 1.64 goals per game to rank seventh in the PSAC and 14th nationally.
Senior Emily Barnard (Vestal, New York/Vestal) is Shippensburg's top scorer with 18 goals and three assists for 39 points, netting eight gamewinners. Freshman Jazmin Petrantonio (Saenz Pena, Argentina) leads the Raiders with 11 assists, to go with eight goals, including three gamewinners, for 27 points. Senior Mary Spisak (Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania/Boiling Springs) has contributed nine goals and five assists for 23 points, with 11 different Raiders scoring goals so far this season.
Junior Ally Mooney (Spring City, Pennsylvania/Owen J. Roberts) has started all 18 games in goal for Shippensburg and has posted a 1.53 goals against average and .771 save percentage with 4.7 saves per game in 1,144:48. The Raiders have shutout just one opponent this season, an 8-0 win over NE10 member Southern Connecticut State University on September 3.
Saturday marks just the third meeting all-time between these two programs, the first since 2004 and first in postseason play. Stonehill and Shippensburg have split the two previous matchups – both of which occurred in Easton, Massachusetts. Stonehill posted a 2-1 victory in their first meeting in 2001, while the Raiders answered with a 7-6 overtime triumph in their last matchup in 2004.
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2017 NCAA Division II
Field Hockey Championship
Saturday, November 11
#6 Stonehill (13-6) at #3 Shippensburg (14-4), 1 p.m.
#5 Millersville (14-5) at #4 Saint Anselm (17-2), 1 p.m.
Friday, November 17
Hosted by Bellarmine University
Owsley B. Frazier Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky
Stonehill/Shippensburg winner vs. #2 East Stroudsburg (17-4), 10 a.m.
Millersville/Saint Anselm winner vs. #1 LIU Post (18-3), 1 p.m.
Sunday, November 19
Hosted by Bellarmine University
Trager Stadium (Univ. of Louisville), Louisville, Kentucky
Semifinals winners, 11 a.m.