#9 Stonehill Ready to Battle #5 Merrimack in NE10 Semifinals

Sixth-seeded Skyhawks look to reach NE10 Championship for fourth time in six years

NE10 Field Hockey Championship Central

Andersen scored two second half goals to help lead the Skyhawks to Tuesday's NE10 Quarterfinal win. (PHOTO BY Matt Campbell)

EASTON, Mass. (November 15, 2018) – Sixth-seeded Stonehill College, ranked ninth in this week's Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II poll, looks to earn a spot in Sunday's Northeast-10 Conference Championship for the eighth time in program history when it battles second-seeded and No. 5-ranked Merrimack College in a semifinal round matchup at Duane Stadium in North Andover, Massachusetts, tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Admission will be $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for students and senior citizens, with students from participating institutions with a valid ID admitted for $1.00. The game will be streamed live via the Merrimack Sports Network by NE10 Now at portal.stretchinternet.com/Merrimack and available for television through the NE10 Now app on Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku. Links to the video stream and live stats will also be available through stonehillskyhawks.com.

Stonehill (13-6, 8-5 NE10), competing in its Conference-record matching 20th NE10 Tournament reached the semifinals with a rousing 7-1 triumph at third-seeded and No. 6-ranked LIU Post in Tuesday's semifinal round, erasing a 1-0 halftime deficit with seven unanswered goals in the second half. Senior All-American Kacie Smith totaled five points with two goals and an assist, while classmate Carly Andersen netted two goals and junior All-American Michaela Antonellis contributed a goal and assist to lead the Skyhawks.

Merrimack (16-3, 11-2 NE10) scored two second half goals to break a 1-1 halftime deadlock with seventh-seeded Bentley University in their quarterfinal round matchup. The Warriors had three different goal scorers, with senior Delaney Yule scoring the gamewinner midway through the second half, before freshman Juliane Ohmen added an insurance marker. Ohmen's older sister, junior Katharina Ohmen preserved the win with five saves.

The winner of tomorrow's semifinal will advance to Sunday's NE10 Championship, to be hosted by the highest remaining seed, at 1 p.m. Fourth-seeded and No. 10 Saint Anselm College (14-5, 10-3 NE10) will host eighth-seeded Assumption College (12-7, 7-6 NE10) in tomorrow's other NE10 semifinal in Manchester, New Hampshire, at 4 p.m. Assumption shocked top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Pace University, 1-0 in their Tuesday night quarterfinal.

Smith, the second three-time NE10 Player of the Year in Conference history, had five points in Tuesday's win and leads Division II in scoring for the second-straight year. (PHOTO BY Matt Campbell)

Stonehill, ranked No. 5 in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, showed signs of reclaiming the form it showed during a 6-1 start in which the Skyhawks won five-straight and claimed wins over current No. 1 West Chester (Pa.) University and No. 3 East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University in September with Tuesday's commanding win at No. 6 LIU Post. The Skyhawks need success this weekend to earn a spot in the upcoming NCAA Tournament for the sixth-straight year and tenth time in program history overall. Stonehill has reached the NE10 Championship game three times over the last six years and seven times in program history overall. The Skyhawks have won the tournament three times, with titles in 2005, 2014 and 2015, and finals appearances in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013 as well.

Merrimack, ranked second in the region, is in the NE10 Tournament for the 11th time and looking to claim its first championship in its final go-round in the event before elevating to NCAA Division I status in 2019. The Warriors have made two trips to the championship game in 2011 and 2012, where they were defeated by former NE10 member UMass Lowell each year.

Friday marks the 40th meeting all-time between these two program, the fifth in postseason play and third in the NE10 Tournament. Stonehill holds a 24-15 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1996, but Merrimack is 13-7 against the Skyhawks since 2010, winning six of the last eight, including a 3-1 decision in North Andover on October 31. The two programs have split their four previous postseason matchups, with Stonehill taking the two NE10 Tournament encounters and Merrimack winning both meetings in the NCAA Tournament. The Skyhawks earned NE10 semifinal victories over the Warriors in 2009 (3-0) and 2013 (3-2) – the latter of which was also played at Merrimack.

In Merrimack's 3-1 win over Stonehill two weeks ago, the Warriors staked out a two-goal lead early in the second half and made it stand. Senior Mary McNeil led Merrimack with a goal and assist, while Ohmen made six saves in the Warriors cage. Smith's 100th career goal put the Skyhawks on the scoreboard four minutes after McNeil gave Merrimack a two-goal lead, while senior Sara Freedman finished with eight stops.

Stonehill enters postseason play having posted a 7-5 mark since starting 6-1, after Tuesday's quarterfinal win. The Skyhawks are ranked third in the NE10 and sixth nationally in Division II by scoring 3.36 goals per game, while ranking fifth in the Conference and 12th nationally with a 1.45 goals against average. Stonehill leads the NE10 and ranks seventh nationally with its six shutouts this season and are seventh in the league (17th nationally) with 7.5 penalty corners per game.

Greenberg helps lead the Skyhawks defensive unit and earned All-NE10 honors this fall. (PHOTO BY Matt Campbell)

Smith, the reigning Longstreth/NFHCA Division II Player of the Year who became just the second three-time NE10 Player of the Year in Conference history on Wednesday, spearheads Stonehill's offensive attack, and is one of just two players in NCAA Division II history to surpass 100 career goals and 200 points. She leads Division II in scoring for the second-straight year with 31 goals and 72 points, also dishing out a team-high ten assists to rank third in the Conference. Smith enters the postseason ranked second in NCAA Division II history with her NE10 record 255 points and 108 goals, to go with a program-record 39 assists, which ranks fourth in NE10 history.

Andersen and freshman Olivia Cameron lend offensive support for Smith. Andersen, a two-time All-NE10 selection with her third team honors this fall, is seventh among NE10 scoring leaders with 34 points as well as goals with 14, ranking ninth in the Conference with her six assists. Cameron, an NE10 All-Rookie Team selection, has added nine goals and three assists for 21 points in her first collegiate season. Antonellis, a two-time All-NE10 performer with second team honors this fall, has chipped in four goals and three assists for 11 points from the midfield.

Freedman, Stonehill's career saves leader with 461 in 79 career games played, ranks fifth in the NE10 and 12th nationally in Division II with her 1.39 goals against average, having started all 19 games and averaging 5.0 saves per game in 1,256:49 with three shutouts (5th NE10). Senior MacKenzie Greenberg, sophomore Elaine Bachelder and freshman Charlotte Cloosterman spearhead the defensive backfield in front of Freedman. Bachelder is a first team All-NE10 selection this fall, while Greenberg earned second team honors and Cloosterman was named to the NE10 All-Rookie Team.

Merrimack enters Friday's game with two straight wins after dropping back-to-back matchups with Pace and Saint Anselm after the Stonehill win. The Warriors boast both the NE10's Goalkeeper of the Year in Ohmen and Defensive Player of the Year in Yule and rank fourth in the NE10 and ninth nationally with a 1.20 team goals against average. Merrimack is second in the NE10 and fifth nationally by scoring 3.47 goals per game, an offense that is aided by averaging a national-best 12.7 penalty corners per game.

McNeil is second among NE10 scoring leaders with 46 points, ranking second in assists with 14 and fourth with 16 goals, including three gamewinners. Junior Jessica Palmer has added nine goals and two assists for 20 points, with 11 other Warriors having also scored at least one goal this season.

Ohmen has started all 17 games she has played in the Merrimack goal, posting a 1.34 goals against average and .805 save percentage with 5.6 saves per game and four shutouts in 1,204:08.

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. 

2018 Northeast-10 Conference
Field Hockey Championships 

Tuesday, November 13 (at higher seeds)
#6 Stonehill 7, #3 LIU Post 1
#4 Saint Anselm 4, #5 Southern N.H. 2
#8 Assumption 1, #1 Pace 0
#2 Merrimack 3, #7 Bentley 1

Friday, November 16 (at higher seeds)
#6 Stonehill (13-6, 8-5 NE10) at #2 Merrimack (16-3, 11-2 NE10), 4 p.m.
#8 Assumption (12-7, 7-6 NE10) at #4 Saint Anselm (14-5, 10-3 NE10), 4 p.m.

Sunday, November 18 (at higher seed)
Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.