Lions lean on stingy defense to stay in win column

Continuing a season-long trend of solid play from the back, the 12th-ranked field hockey team extended its win streak to five games with 3-0 wins over Gwynedd Mercy College and NJAC opponent Richard Stockton College.

The Lions take care of business at home. (Photo by Monica Murphy)

The Lions (5-1) allowed just 10 shots through both games, helping goalie junior Amanda Krause  — this week’s NJAC Defensive Player of the Week — earn her second and third shutouts of the season.

Hard work and positive play from both freshmen and veterans has helped the team concede just twice in the five games since their season opener, a 4-3 loss.

“I would say that our defense this year has a great range of players from incoming freshman to a few upper classmen who all have a tremendous amount of skill and who work very well together,” Krause said. “They have worked their butts off in the last five games to make sure that I didn’t have to touch the ball much through a lot of communication and support on our defensive end. By doing this we have managed to continually keep the ball out of our cage.”

Freshmen have been contributing on the offensive side of the game as well, including in the Lions’ conference opener against Richard Stockton.

Freshman forward Lexi Bell scored to give the Lions a 2-0 lead late in the first half, after junior Victoria Martin netted an unassisted goal and the eventual game-winner 5:33 before the break.

Junior Lindsey Hatch rounded out the scoring in the second half off a feed from Smith, putting an exclamation on a performance that gives the Lions a 1-0 conference record and an early head start in the race for nationals qualification.

“It’s very important to get off with a win in NJAC play,” Krause said. “The top two teams in NJAC are the only ones who are gauranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament.”

Smith also performed against Gwynedd Mercy, scoring the latter two goals after freshman Danielle Andreula found net in the 20th minute.

Krause made four saves in the game, which kept the team’s chemistry growing and kept the win streak alive.

“The team seems to be bonding extremely well as a single cohesive unit on the field,” Krause said. “With everything going so smoothly, the players have high expectations for the remainder of the season.”