MERRIMACK TOPS PREVIOUSLY UNBEATEN STONEHILL, 1-0, IN TUESDAY NIGHT THRILLER
Links: Box Score
EASTON, Mass. – In a back-and-forth, intense battle featuring a pair of Northeast-10 Conference powers, senior forward Jessica Otis (Pittsford, N.Y.) scored the game's only goal in the 59th minute while sophomore goalkeeper Madison Davis (San Jose, Calif.) turned away a career-high 11 shots, as the seventh-ranked Merrimack College field hockey team posted a huge, 1-0 road victory at third-ranked and previously unbeaten Stonehill College on Tuesday night at W.B. Mason Stadium.
Score: Merrimack 1, Stonehill 0
Records: Merrimack (13-4, 9-1 NE-10) | Stonehill (16-1, 8-1 NE-10)
Location: W.B. Mason Stadium| Easton, Mass.
How It Happened
Looking to stay alive in the race for the NE-10 regular season title and earn a first-round bye in next week's NE-10 Championships, Merrimack and Stonehill battled to find the back of the cage for nearly 60 minutes but had nothing to show on the scoreboard.
Both sides had their opportunities, and none was better for Merrimack than early in the second half with a look at a wide open net, but a shot attempt went over the cage to keep the game scoreless.
Then, with just over 20 minutes to go, the Skyhawks were awarded a penalty stroke, and the league's leading goal scorer – Erika Kelly – came to the circle to face Davis. But the latter made the biggest save of her young career on the attempt, keeping the home side off the board.
Merrimack also was forced to deal with playing over 11 minutes in the second stanza down a man, as the Warriors were issued three successive green cards in the 45th, 53rd and 57th minute.
But then, in the 59th minute, after Davis came up with one of her huge saves on the other end, the Warrior offense drove down the length of the turf on a counter attack. Senior forward Candace Waldie (North Andover, Mass.) threaded through the defense before feeding Otis, who promptly one-timed a shot past Stonehill netminder Elizabeth Genovese (8 saves) to put the Warriors on the board.
Yet again, Merrimack was forced to deal with playing down a player after a yellow card was issued after the goal, giving Stonehill added advantage to try and tie the game.
But from there on out, the Skyhawks would attempt five more shots but get nothing, two of which were blocked and three more that were saved by Davis, including a game-changing stop with under a minute to go, when Davis came off her line to intercept a breakaway attempt from Kelly, effectively ending the match with those heroics.
The win also gave the Warriors some revenge after falling to Stonehill at home, 3-1, earlier in the season, and also gives the Navy and Gold the key head-to-head tiebreaker should the two teams be tied at the end of the regular season.
What They Said
Head Coach Anne Rounce: "That was an absolutely intense game for 70 minutes, no letdowns from either team. It felt like a playoff game. That was a tremendous team effort from everyone out there tonight. Maddie was huge and made important stops when we needed her to. Overall, we played smart and fought our way to a very important road win."
Top-six qualify for NE-10 Championships
1. LIU Post (9-0)
2. Merrimack (9-1)
3. Stonehill (8-1)
4. Bentley (5-4)
T5. Adelphi (4-5)
T5. Saint Anselm (4-5)
7. So. Connecticut (4-6)
8. Saint Michael's (3-6)
T9. American Int'l (2-7)
T9. Assumption (2-7)
11. Franklin Pierce (1-9)
- Merrimack concludes the regular season at 9-1
- LIU Post will play Stonehill Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. in Long Island
- Should Stonehill defeat LIU Post, Merrimack, Stonehill and LIU will be declared tri-champions and a conference goal differential tiebreaker will be used to determine the top three seeds
- Should LIU Post win Saturday, Merrimack will be the #2 seed for next week's NE-10 Championships
A Closer Look
- Stonehill finished a 20-15 edge in shot attempts, including an 11-9 edge in shots on target
- Stonehill also commanded the penalty corner battle, 9-6
- Davis and Genovese were both impressive, combining for 19 saves altogether
- Sophomore Taylor Ledwith (Springfield, Mass.) led Merrimack with four shot attempts and three on target, while Otis and sophomore Katrina Squeri (Chelmsford, Mass.) added three more attempts apiece
- Kelly finished the game with three shots – all on target – while Emily Sideris led the way with seven attempts and five on net
With the regular season concluded, the Warriors will either play next Tuesday, Nov. 5, in an NE-10 Quarterfinal matchup at home or next Friday, Nov. 8, in an NE-10 Semifinal matchup at home depending on the outcome of this weekend's games.