COLCHESTER, Vt. – After finding itself down a goal early in the first half, the Merrimack field hockey team fought back to take a one-score lead that it would never relinquish, fighting through cold temperatures and light rain to down Saint Michael's College, 2-1, on the road in a key Northeast-10 Conference showdown on Wednesday afternoon in Colchester, Vt.
By virtue of their seventh road victory in eight tries this season, the Warriors improve to 12-2 overall and 6-1 in league play, while the Purple Knights fall to 4-11 with a 2-5 NE-10 mark.
The entirety of the match's offense came in the first 25 minutes of regulation, as the home side took an early 1-0 lead before the Warriors responded with back-to-back goals to round out the scoring.
Senior goalkeeper Kerri Bergquist (Mashpee, Mass.) finished with eight saves – five of them in the first half – while freshman Katrina Squeri (Chelmsford, Mass.) and junior Candace Waldie (North Andover, Mass.) provided all of the offense that Merrimack would need.
"That was definitely a critical victory on the road," head coach Anne Rounce said afterward. "We need to refocus and work together to prepare for a big match against AIC on Saturday."
The Purple Knights came out firing to start the contest, peppering Bergquist with seven shots in the first 15 minutes of the first half. After being fended off for the first 10 minutes, Samantha Burns broke through on a rebound goal at 10:42 to give Saint Michael's a 1-0 lead early in first frame, prompting a Merrimack timeout minutes later.
Following the timeout, Merrimack immediately regained control of the game as the Warriors reeled off three straight shots until Squeri put the visitors on the board at 22:11, sliding a rebounded pass from senior April Daugherty (Wakefield, R.I.) into the back of the cage to tie the game at 1-1.
Less than two minutes later, the Warriors struck again, this time from the team's leading scorer Waldie. The junior forward tipped in a shot from Daugherty – who finished with two assists – into the cage near the left post to put Merrimack ahead, 2-1, with just more than 10 minutes to play in the first half.
That one-goal edge would hold through the remainder of the first frame, one that the Purple Knights owned an 11-9 shot advantage during. Bergquist, meanwhile, finished with five saves in the first half alone compared to Jackie Chisholm's two stops.
Both sides' respective backlines stepped up throughout the second half, as neither team would find the back of the cage over the final 35 minutes of action. In total, only eight shot attempts combined were recorded in the second stanza, one that St. Mike's outshot Merrimack by a 7-2 margin.
In total, the Purple Knights owned a 17-11 advantage in shot attempts and a 7-3 edge in penalty corners
The Warriors return to action this weekend when they welcome AIC for a conference showdown on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Martone-Mejail Field. Before the game, head coach Anne Rounce and the athletic department will honor a historic senior class with a pregame ceremony slated to begin about 10 minutes before the scheduled 1 p.m. first whistle.