Montclair State University Red Hawk’s field hockey team surprised the top-ranked Lions on Saturday evening as they pulled out a double-overtime victory of 4-3 in the final seconds.
Red Hawks forward senior Sarah Levine scored the decisive goal at 99:59.
The game held at Sprague Field was the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opener for both teams. Due to a lapse at the end of the game, the College started its league season of with a loss.
“We had the game won,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “We’re up 3-1 with only a few minutes left, and we should have hung onto the game.”
The Lions (5-1 overall, 0-1, NJAC) started the game off in the successful manner that they had been accustomed to all year.
Unassisted goals from senior mid-fielder/defender Lauren Wooster at 14:31 and senior forward Christie Shore at 32:39 gave the Lions room to work with in the first half. The goals left the Lions with a 2-1 lead at halftime, as the Montclair Red Hawks’ senior midfielder Megan Ulicny scored in the first half.
Senior forward Jessica Hamway fed junior forward Colleen Stamler, who scored past MSU senior goalie Trisha Winkle at 56:23 to open up the lead to two goals at 3-1. Facing a challenging deficit with less than 14 minutes left in the game, though, the Red Hawks (3-0 overall, 1-0 NJAC) maintained their composure.
Sarah Levine scored her first goal of the evening on an assist from Ulicny at 57:15. Over 12 minutes later, with only 38 seconds remaining in the game, Red Hawks senior midfielder Nicole Puso scored past the College’s sophomore goal keeper Kristina Beyel to send the game into overtime.
“Once the game went into overtime, the emotional momentum of the game definitely changed,” Pfluger said.
After 15 scoreless minutes in the first overtime, it appeared the second overtime would finish scoreless as well. That would have put the fate of the game in penalty shots. However, senior Levine scored her second goal of the evening off a rebound in the final seconds of the second extra period.
Lions 3, Blue Jays 0
On Thursday, the top-ranked Lions defeated Johns Hopkins, 3-0, who dropped to a record of 1-2. The game was the team’s third shutout of the season.
After pitching her third shutout in five games as a starter, sophomore goalie Kristina Beyel left the game to a loud ovation and was relieved by rookie freshman Erin Mitschke, in her first game as a Lion goalkeeper.
The College controlled the action, especially in the first half. The team’s leading scorer, freshman forward Allison Greene scored early at 8:03.
The Lions had a major boost when junior forward Colleen Stamler scored off of a pass from senior midfielder/defender Danielle Bechtel at 34:54, six seconds before halftime.
The game was never in doubt after that, as freshman forward Jessica Berkowitz scored at 53:24 for the final goal. A couple of difficult saves by JHU sophomore goalie Meredith Shifman in the second half kept the game from getting more lopsided.
Pfluger was satisfied with the team’s solid performance against the Blue Jays.
“I thought we played very well,” she said. “We passed well, and played well as a team.”
The week started with the Lions being voted first in the first STX/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III National Coaches Poll of the season.
The College received 13 of the 26 first-place votes, ahead of No.2 Messiah College and No.3 Rowan University. Montclair State was ranked 17th in the poll.
The Lions’ next game face the Drew University Rangers for a non-league game at 7 p.m., Sept. 18.