November 22, 2013

#3 LIU Post Edges #7 Field Hockey in National Semifinals, 1-0

MERRIMACK FINISHES SEASON 14-6 (THIRD-MOST WINS IN SCHOOL HISTORY)

Links: Box Score

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Despite holding a 10-4 lead in penalty corners and commanding large portions of the contest, the seventh-ranked Merrimack College field hockey team saw its memorable 2013 campaign come to a close after third-ranked LIU Post remained unbeaten, as the Pioneers advanced to the National Championship with a 1-0 decision over the Warriors in Friday's NCAA Semifinal round at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.

The Basics
Score:
LIU Post 1, Merrimack 0
Records: Merrimack (14-6)
| LIU Post (21-0)
Location:
Virginia Beach Sportsplex | Virginia Beach, Va.

How It Happened
Facing the top-ranked offensive unit in the country, the Warriors more than held their own on defense, keeping one of the nation's leading scorers in Carlee Dragon off the board through the course of the game.

In fact, Merrimack – which was looking to avenge a 4-3 double-overtime loss in the regular season against the Pioneers – controlled the pace of play during large stretches of the game and held LIU Post with just one shot attempt during the first 35 minutes of play.

Defense and physical play was the theme of the opening half, with both sides not registering many scoring chances. The Warriors were rewarded four penalty corners during that span and thought they had the go-ahead goal late in the period when a cross across the goalmouth wound up with the ball in the back of the cage, but the officials ruled no-goal on a foot deflection to keep the game scoreless heading into the break.

Merrimack lost none of that momentum during intermission and came out on fire to start the second stanza. After weathering a couple early chances from the Pioneers on a penalty corner, Merrimack blitzed the only remaining undefeated team in the nation with scoring chance after scoring chance.

While the box score showed only six shot attempts in the half for the Navy and Gold, in reality, the Warriors had at least two golden opportunities to take the lead with the ball loose inside the circle and traffic in front, but LIU Post's Meredith Stocklin was strong for the Pioneers, finishing the game with five saves while keeping the Warriors at bay during those situations.

Much of Merrimack's momentum was staunched in the 54th minute after a green card was issued to the Warriors, and LIU Post slowly began to generate chances of its own from that stretch forward.

Finally, in the 65th minute, the Pioneers took control on a turnover and carried it down the right side line. Steph Mocerino managed to thread a pass across to an open Keliann Margiotta, who one-timed the ball past sophomore Madison Davis (San Jose, Calif.) and in for the goal that proved to be the difference.

From there on out, the Warriors would have two more penalty corners within the span of a minute; on the first, a shot from junior Katie Bishop (Conway, N.H.) was blocked before classmate Abbey Stacey (Sidney, Maine) fired another chance that hit the pads of Stocklin. On the ensuing corner, Merrimack was unable to get a clean shot off, and from there, the Pioneers would run out the clock to punch their ticket to the title game, where they will represent the North Region and face Shippensburg on Sunday afternoon.

The game was the final in the careers of four seniors: Jessica Otis (Pittsford, N.Y.), Candace Waldie (North Andover, Mass.), Sarah Dunbar (Hubbardston, Mass.) and Lindsay Grover (Barnstable, Mass.), each of whom helped the program reach the National Semifinals for three straight seasons while earning two NE-10 regular season titles and a pair of trips to the NE-10 Championship.

A Closer Look

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