The Lions’ No. 2 ranked field hockey team clinched the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship when they defeated the Cougars of Kean University 2-1 last Tuesday. They now stand at 15-2.

The victory followed wins against Drew University and William Paterson University.

The Lions also faced No. 1 SUNY- Cortland on Sunday and fell to the Red Dragons 1-0. Last Thursday, they defeated Messiah College 2-1.

In the conference-clinching game, the Cougars scored the first goal, but senior forward Jess Berkowitz quickly followed with a goal for the College. It was the result of an assist by senior forward Allison Greene.

Sophomore midfielder Melissa Buttray scored the winning goal 15:30 into the second half. Junior defender Sheri Grondski picked up the assist, bringing her to four assists in the last three games.

“It wasn’t an easy game and we weren’t planning on it being easy,” junior defender Ashleigh Pecherski said. “We knew Kean was going to be fired up and ready to play us, like every other team has been. We had a hard time getting the ball in the cage, but stayed composed and managed to score some goals.”

Senior goalkeeper Erin Mitschke had two saves.

The NJAC championship guarantees the Lions a bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“We … set a few goals prior to our season and winning NJAC was the first one we’ve met so far,” sophomore forward Jenny Lubin said. “It gave us an automatic bid to (NCAAs), which is what we were working towards all year.”

The game against Drew University on Oct. 18 was also an important one for the team, earning a 7-0 win after the team’s first loss to Salisbury University.

Freshman midfielder Jess Falcone scored two goals in the first 3:24 of the game. Goals by Buttray, Lubin, sophomore forward Katie Reuther and two by Greene followed within the first 10 minutes of the game.

“We knew we needed to come back strong after our loss to Salisbury,” Falcone said. “I was glad I could help with the win.”

“Going into the game we were really excited to get back out there and prove ourselves … after what happened at Salisbury,” Reuther said. “We worked really well as a team … Everyone did their part in order for us to come out on top.”

The Lions then went on to defeat William Paterson University on Oct. 21 in a game that ended 5-0.

Berkowitz began the game by scoring her ninth goal of the season. Her goal was followed with one by Lubin. Buttray finished the first half by scoring off a penalty corner.

Falcone scored off a pass from Grondski, bringing the final score to 5-0, after Pecherski got a penalty stroke.

“I was really nervous at first, but I just kept telling myself to shoot like I always do at practice,” Pecherski said. “I just stayed calm and the next thing I remembered, it hit the backboard.”

The Lions’ final game of the week was away at Messiah College on Oct. 26. The team beat the Falcons 2-1.

Falcone scored the only goal of the first half, giving her nine for the season. In the second half, Berkowitz brought the score to 2-0 with a goal 7:03 into the half.

The Falcons got a penalty stroke with 12 minutes left in the game, but could not make a comeback. Mitschke finished the game with five saves.

Next for the College is the final regular-season game, as Richard Stockton College visits Lions’ Stadium tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

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