NORTH ANDOVER, MA – The #4 Merrimack field hockey team defeated #9 American International 5-2 Friday evening in the semifinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament at Martone-Mejail Field. The top-seeded Warriors improve to 17-1 on the season with their 17th-straight victory. The fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets dropped to 13-8 on the year.
Merrimack grabbed an early 1-0 lead just 3:12 into the contest. April Daugherty (Wakefield, RI) knocked in a rebound in front of the cage for her 20th tally of the season.
Katie Zubkus (Dover, NH) doubled the Warriors' advantage 40 seconds later. Zubkus one-timed a rebound into the net for her second score of the year, giving Merrimack a 2-0 lead.
Daugherty, the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year, notched her second goal of the game with 7:46 remaining in the first half. Jen Otis (Penacook, NH) dribbled down the right side of the field before sliding a pass to Daugherty in the penalty area. The co-captain lifted a shot over the diving goalkeeper into the left corner for her 21st of the year.
American International got a goal back in the final minutes of the opening frame. Lisa Duckles blasted in a shot off of a penalty corner to cut the visitors' deficit to 3-1.
Merrimack owned a 14-5 advantage in shots through 35 minutes of action. The Yellow Jackets earned five penalty corners while the Warriors received three in the first period.
Jessica Otis (Pittsford, NY) netted her seventh goal of the campaign 21 minutes into the second stanza. Jessica Otis and Jen Otis executed a give-and-go inside the penalty area allowing the sophomore to send the ball into the left corner to restore the hosts' three-goal margin.
Jessica Otis added an unassisted tally with less than four minutes remaining in the game. After Jamie Spano (Reading, MA) had a shot saved by the American International goalie, Otis lifted a shot into the upper right corner for her eighth of the season and second of the contest.
The Yellow Jackets tacked on a score in the final play of the match. Aimie Angeletti knocked in a rebound off of a penalty corner with no time on the clock.
Merrimack finished with a 27-11 gap in shots on the night. The visitors edged the Warriors 9-7 in penalty corners in the game.
Kerri Bergquist (Mashpee, MA), the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Goalie of the Year, made six saves en route to her 17th victory of the year between the pipes for Merrimack. Kim Steiner stopped nine shots in goal for American International.
"Tonight was a great team effort and team win. This gets us one step closer to another one of our goals," said head coach Anne Rounce, the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year. "I thought we came out strong and scoring twice really set the tone for our team. Our passing patterns were crisp and I think our communication needed to be a bit better."
The Warriors will square off against #5 UMass Lowell in the title match of the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Sunday, October 30 at 12 pm.
The River Hawks advanced to the finals with a 3-1 win over Stonehill in the first semifinal game of the day.