December 7, 2011

#3 Field Hockey Produces Historical Season En Route to First-Ever Final Four

This is the sixth in a series of recaps summarizing the most successful fall season at Merrimack in at least 10 years.

November 30: Cross Country
December 1: Volleyball
December 2: Men's Soccer
December 5: Women's Soccer
December 6: Football
December 7: Field Hockey

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The Merrimack field hockey team posted its most successful season in program history in 2011, leaving shattered records in its wake. The Warriors posted a 17-3 overall record this fall and clinched their first-ever Northeast-10 Conference Regular Season crown with a 10-0 mark in the league.

After suffering a season-opening loss to #8 Indiana (PA), Merrimack rebounded the next day to clip #6 East Stroudsburg in overtime. The Warriors' victory set off a 17-game winning streak, the longest among any team in school history.

Merrimack registered six-consecutive shutouts between September 8 and September 22 behind a scoreless-streak spanning 449:31 by goalkeeper Kerri Bergquist (Mashpee, MA).

On September 13, the Warriors jumped into the NFHCA National Rankings as they soared to #8. Merrimack remained in the national poll for the remaining nine weeks of the season, closing out the year as the #3 team in the country, the highest in program-history. The Warriors surpassed the previous ranking mark September 20 as they progressed to #7 in the rankings

Junior April Daugherty (Wakefield, RI) broke the all-time career points record in Merrimack's 5-3 victory over Franklin Pierce October 6 with a goal and two assists.

In a 6-0 win over Saint Michael's October 12, Daugherty buried four markers to set the program's single-season points record with 40 and tied the single-season goals mark with 16.

After topping American International in overtime on a tally by Sarah Salatto (Guilford, CT) with five seconds remaining, the Warriors were in line to claim a share of its first-ever Northeast-10 Regular Season title. With her 17th goal of the year, Daugherty became the first player in program-history to collect 100 career points.

Merrimack and UMass Lowell both entered the October 18 showdown with identical 8-0 records in the conference.  In front of a packed crowd at Martone-Mejail Field, the #4 Warriors jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over the #5 River Hawks. The visitors netted a goal late in the contest on a penalty stroke but the Merrimack defense squandered any chances Lowell had of scoring an equalizer. The Warriors held off the River Hawks 2-1 to earn a share of its first-ever regular season championship.

A 1-0 overtime-victory over Adelphi on Senior Day gave Merrimack the outright Northeast-10 Conference Regular Season crown as they completed the 2011 campaign with an unblemished league mark.

The Warriors headed into the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament as the top-seeded team. In the semifinals, Merrimack cruised past #9 American International 5-2 to earn a spot in the championship game.

In the title contest, the Warriors met a familiar foe-UMass Lowell. Once again, Merrimack tallied two goals in the first half to hold a 2-0 edge at halftime. The River Hawks battled back to notch three scores in a span of 4:37 to pick up their seventh Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Championship.

Merrimack received an at-large berth to its first-ever NCAA Tournament, garnering the #1 seed in the North Region and a bye to the Final Four. In the national semifinals, the Warriors were pitted against UMass Lowell for the third team in the fall. The River Hawks potted three quick goals to take a 3-0 lead into the half.

 In the second half, Salatto found the back of the net to cut the deficit to 3-1. UMass Lowell held on for the 3-1 win to eliminate Merrimack from the NCAA Tournament.

The Warriors collected numerous accolades in 2011 including the program's first-ever Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year and Coach of the Year nods. Daugherty was selected as the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year after leading the league in goals scored.

Daugherty also set single-season records for most points per game (2.50), game-winning goals (6) and shots on goal (69) in 2011. The junior co-captain led Merrimack with 50 points on 22 goals and six assists. She enters her senior season as the program record holder with 40 career tallies and 107 career points.

Bergquist was tabbed the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Goalie of the Year, becoming the second player in program history to earn the distinction. She owned a 17-3 record in goal with a 1.00 goals-against average and nine shutouts. Bergquist became the all-time leader with 38 career wins and 16 shutouts through three seasons in the Warrior cage. During the year, Bergquist hauled in five Northeast-10 Goalie of the Week honors.

Fourth-year head coach Anne Rounce, a 2007 Merrimack graduate, was named the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Warriors to their first-ever Northeast-10 Conference Regular Season championship. Rounce was also named the 2011 Dita/NFHCA Division II Regional Coach of the Year.

Jen Otis (Penacook, NH), Daugherty and Bergquist were all named to the NFHCA All-America first team this season while Katie Zubkus (Dover, NH) earned a spot on the second team, doubling the number of All-American in program history to eight. Daugherty became the first player to repeat as an All-American as she earned the honor as a freshman.

Bergquist, Daugherty and Otis were all selected to the Northeast-10 All-Conference first team in 2011. Jessica Otis (Pittsford, NY), Stephanie Heasman (Flanders, NJ) and Zubkus were all second team honorees while Kristen Connolly (Westminster, MA) and Abbey Stacey (Messalonskee, ME) were All-Rookie picks.

Victoria DeLacey (Charlton, MA), Caitlin Kamide (Southbury, CT) and Heasman all represented Merrimack in the NFHCA North/South Senior All-Star Game.

"This was a special season for us. We had a great group of talented individuals that became a family through their passion, dedication and leadership. Before the season started, the team set forth four specific goals, all of which were accomplished throughout the season," said Rounce. "I could not be prouder of this program for bringing the first Northeast-10 Regular Season title onto campus. We are looking forward to the offseason to work hard and prepare for next fall."

Merrimack graduates five seniors this year and will return 15 players for 2012.