Field Hockey wins NJAC, prepares for NCAA tournament

The College’s field hockey team secured a spot in the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship Tournament this past week with five straight wins. They started against Millersville University on Oct. 21 and have yet to be stopped.

Two weeks ago, the Lions held an 8-5 record and were ranked 15th by the STX/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division III National Coaches poll. But with their recent play they have advanced to a 13-5 record and are now ranked 10th.

The Lions capitalized on a penalty corner against Millersville when senior midfielder Kim Feeley deflected sophomore midfielder Blair Alber’s incoming shot into the lower right corner against the Marauders. Senior forward Colleen Stamler sealed the deal when she put a shot in at 39.43, which turned into a 2-0 win.

“The team played together, everyone put forth great effort and that’s what led to our win,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said.

Sophomore goalie Erin Mitschke earned her first career start and win as she made no stops in 35 minutes of action.

The Lions won the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship against Montclair State University 7-0 later in the week.

“A lot of alumni came to our game, and it was great to have their support because it was such a huge game for us,” Stamler said. The victory also gave the College the league’s first-ever automatic qualification to the national tournament.

Sophomore forward Allison Greene led the Lions with her first career hat trick.

“Scoring early has really helped us get the win,” junior goalkeeper Kristina Beyel said. “I think we rattled their goalie a little, and the scoring got our team really pumped up.”

Freshman forward Alycia Gotthold was the first to score when she received the ball from sophomore forward Jess Berkowitz, who jabbed a pass over and behind Montclair’s junior goalkeeper Robyn Apicelli. Greene made it a 2-0 game with her fourth goal of the year at 7:57.

“We played really well, we had a great connection with our forwards,” Beyel said.

The College would carry that 2-0 margin into halftime. In the second half, the Lions unleashed five unanswered goals. Greene and Berkowitz each had two goals and Gotthold put the last in at 54:14.

“The game was amazing, it was a great win. We all had good communication, it was a real team effort,” Beyel, who was named NJAC Defensive Player of the Week after her seventh solo shutout of the season, said.

On Oct. 26 the Lions traveled to Eastern University for a non-conference matchup.

“We were on fire and ready to win” Beyel said.

This time, the Eastern Eagles were the first to score when senior forward Danielle Prescott put a goal past Beyel at 31:33. But the Lions were ready with an answer 28 seconds later when Stamler knocked her 11th goal of the season in, tying the game. Stamler then scored again two minutes later, giving the Lions a 2-1 lead at the half.

In the second half, Eastern forced overtime as junior forward Lisa Bitterlich converted a pass from sophomore midfielder June Brant to notch the game-tying goal at 48:36.

Stamler corralled a loose ball after a broken penalty corner and put it through the goalkeeper’s pads with 7:52 remaining in the second overtime period to lift the Lions to a 3-2 double overtime win over Eastern.

Beyel posted 10 saves in order to help the Lions to the win. Senior Joelyn Moyer finished with nine stops in the loss.

Drew University was up next, on Oct. 28. The Lions scored three straight goals against them, two within a 28-second span, and took home a 4-2 victory.

The first shot was put in by Drew’s senior forward, Colleen Mahon, at 2:31 as she deflected a pass coming into the circle from senior forward Ellen Balkovec into the lower left corner.

The Lions would not score until 30:03 when Dougherty put a pass from Berkowitz in to tie up the game.

The College then took control when Stamler tipped in sophomore defender Meg Hess’ shot from the top of the circle at 62:11. And 28 seconds later, Berkowitz netted a goal to bring the game home for yet another Lions’ victory.

The Lions celebrated Senior Day on Halloween with a win over the State University of New York at Cortland.

“It was a great way to earn respect,” Beyel said.

“I am so happy we could win, and honor the seniors who have done such a great job leading us this year,” freshman defender Gina Quaranta said.

The Lions scored three consecutive goals en route to a 5-2 victory over Cortland. The College came out firing as Dougherty gave her team a 1-0 lead at 6:54. The Red Dragons tied up the game at one at 11:07 as sophomore forward Kelli Johnson hit a pass down the middle of the circle and senior forward Becky Osier deflected it in the goal. The Lions would score four more to earn the 5-2 victory.

“I think we had that little extra spark,” freshman midfielder/defender Karen Robinson said. “We had the willingness to go the extra mile.”

The Lions now await the announcement of the 2004 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship Tournament bracket on Nov. 7 to see who they will face next.

“We’re all really excited for post-season play because we ended our regular season games on a very high note,” Quaranta said. “It’s great to go into post-season play with so much momentum.”