Field hockey season comes to a close with 1-0 loss to Montclair

The Lions tear through the NJAC bracket to the championship game. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk.)

While the field hockey team had a strong run in the NJAC tournament, it came to an unfortunate end with a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Montclair State University in the championship game, a result that also disqualified them from the Division III National Championships.

Despite the upsetting defeat, the women still had an impressive season, which resulted in a runner-up finish at the NJACs.

Their road to the final began in a repeat matchup against Rowan University. After barely beating the Owls three weeks earlier, 4-3, the Lions were prepared for another tough battle.

“We just took it like we were going into a brand-new game,” junior forward Erin Healy said. “The first game definitely helped us in knowing what their tendencies were and helped us prepare for what we needed to do. We just went into it to prove that we were the better team and beat them, which we did.”

The Lions scored early and often in a 6-1 win, which meant more to the girls than a victory typically does, as a result of the way they dominated the game.

“We just went out and passed the ball and worked really nicely together as a team and Rowan didn’t stand a chance against us,” Healy said. “We were down by one and then scored six unanswered goals, so we were obviously very happy we beat Rowan, but I think the way we beat them, we knew we were the better team so we never felt like the underdog.”

Leading the Lions in scoring was junior forward Lindsey Hatch, who scored a hat-trick to raise her season total to a NJAC-leading 21 goals. Healy ended the year fourth among NJAC scoring leaders with 19 goals.

While the Lions were excited about a convincing win against Rowan, they knew that they had a difficult game ahead of them against the nation’s top team, Montclair State. Similar to when the College played Rowan, the Lions battled Montclair earlier in the season.

Although they had lost then, 2-1, Healy and the team were confident they could avenge that loss in the NJAC final and automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Despite coming in with a steady game plan and outshooting the Red Hawks 10-3, the College’s offense never found the cage in a 1-0 loss.

“We did get a lot of shots off, but they also tried to stuff their whole team in the circle so it was difficult for us to get through all those defenders,” Healy said. “At the same time, we dominated the second half. We should have cashed in on our opportunities, which we need to do.”

The loss kept the Lions out of the NCAAs for the second time in the last two years, after they were crowned national champions in 2011.

While the College’s season may be over, they can now reflect on all that they accomplished. Despite having only one senior — and half the team made up of freshmen — the women still posted a formidable 16-4 record, ended the season ranked ninth in the country and was second-best in the NJAC.

“We have been very supportive from day one of preseason until now, and it is pretty amazing to see how far we’ve come and how hard everyone has worked and how much heart all the girls have,” Healy said. “It is very obvious to the team how important each girl is on the team, whether they’ve played (a) minute of the game or they hardly get on the field.”

The Lions are a strong team, and they know that they will be back and ready for next year.