Field hockey streak reaches 19 games

After wins over Gwynedd-Mercy College and Johns Hopkins University, the College’s field hockey team has now extended their winning streak — which dates back to last season — to 19 games.

The No. 1-ranked Lions (5-0) made it through the week unscathed, starting with a 4-1 victory over the Griffins (4-2) on Thursday, Sept. 13. Falling behind to the Griffins initially, the College’s offense took on its stride in the first half with senior forward Jillian Nealon deflecting in two shots to give the Lions a 2-1 lead at halftime.

“Nealon has been great in the circle and a lot of that has to do with the timing of her cuts,” senior midfielder Camille Passucci said. “She knows exactly when to sprint towards the cage as the ball is being sent in and is able to finish the play by connecting with the back of the (cage). Her stick-ball coordination is also great, she has a great nose for the goal.”

The Lions have been running like a well-oiled machine. (Photo by Chandler Hart-McGonigle)

Nealon, who leads the Lions with 10 goals scored on the season, credited her defense and midfield for arranging the chain of events that have put her in the right position to cash in and score for the team so often.

“It’s definitely exciting (to score), but what’s more exciting is the plays and passing sequences that create the goals and that comes from (goalkeeper Roisin Dougherty) in the cage and all the way up through the defense and midfield.”

In the second half, the Lions relied on the sticks of two sophomore forwards — Erin Healy and Erin Waller — who both found the cage during penalty corners.

Healy scored about 10 minutes into the second half to extend the Lions lead to two and then Waller took an assist from Passucci with time expiring and put it into the cage. Passucci said the corners are plays that the Lions try to capitalize with high-quality shots.

“With corners, we have numerical superiority, so we try to maximize shots as much as possible,” Passucci said. “With that mentality, every corner we want to shoot to score. When a corner is successful, we generally take an extremely hard and accurate shot.”

Against Johns Hopkins (3-3) on Sunday, Sept. 16, the Lions posted a nearly identical score, walking away from their trip to Baltimore with a 5-1 victory.

Passucci led the Lions offense in the win, tying Waller with a game-high five points. Passucci scored twice with both goals coming off assists from Waller — who had three helpers on the day — while also assisting Waller’s lone goal of the game.

Healy began the Lions’ offensive output in the first half, scoring the team’s first two goals within the first eight minutes of the game. The play of Healy, along with Waller, has been an integral part of the Lions strong start to 2012.

“Both Healy and Waller have stepped their game up from last year,” Nealon said. “They came off great freshman seasons, but kept growing. So far, they have both been playing really well and have been a huge contributing factor to our success.”

The Lions have also seen a great effort in the cage from Dougherty, who stepped in to replace sophomore Amanda Krause after she sustained a concussion earlier this season. Doughtery has only allowed two goals on her way to a 4-0 record to start her college career.

“Roisin has been excellent,” Passucci said. “She has stepped up into her role in such a great way and has been making such a positive impact on the team. As a goalie, she is an excellent communicator, which is essential in the backfield. As the anchor of our defense, she really has been playing at such a high level and I am excited to see where she will go from here.”

The Lions will look to continue their winning streak against Juniata College on Saturday, Sept. 22.