By Miguel Gonzalez
For the past week, the Lions captivated their home crowd and extended their winning streak to an astounding 20 games with a 6-1 victory against Cabrini College and an intense 1-0 overtime victory against Messiah College. Freshman midfielder Sidney Padilla was announced as NJAC’s Rookie Field Hockey player of the week for the week of Sept. 13 for her combined four assists during the Lions’ victories against FDU-Florham Campus and Juniata College.
On Tuesday, the College defeated the Cabrini College Cavaliers, 6-1, with a hat-trick from junior midfielder Jaclyn Douglas. The match started off with penalty corners by Douglas and shots from senior captain Mikayla Cimilluca and Padilla. In the third minute, the Lions broke through with a goal by senior forward Alicia Wagner. The next 23 minutes were highlighted by a slew of shots from Douglas, freshman forward Taylor Barrett and junior defender Lexi Smith. The majority of the shots were blocked or saved by Cavalier goalie Taylor Bookman. Despite the attempts, Cabrini College’s Kerry Farrell scored an equalizer with an assist from Taylor Mack in the 26th minute. This was Cabrini College’s only goal of the match, as the Lions counter-attacked when Smith scored with an assist from Douglas at the conclusion of the first period.
The second period demonstrated Douglas’ instrumental role in the Lion’s offense as she completed a hat trick along with an assist. Cimilluca says the team’s chemistry is paying off right now.
“Jaclyn (Douglas) has a great knowledge of the game and I think that shows in her play,” Cimilluca said. “She knew exactly where to be and I think she is a catalyst for the attack.”
The catalyst initiated the Lions’ offense when Cimilluca knocked in a short pass in front of the net to Douglas before she scored in the 39th minute. The Cavaliers counter-attacked momentarily when Cavalier Tiffany Phillips shot three times. Junior goalie Kelly Schlupp saved all of them. In the 53rd minute, Douglas scored her second goal after receiving a short pass from Freshman Forward Elizabeth Morrison. Without delay, the Lions found the net again when Barrett scored with an assist from Douglas. Toward the end, Douglas finished her performance when she scored her third goal of the game at the 66th minute. Altogether, the Lions shot 29 times while withholding the Cavaliers to four shots.
Under the lights of Lions’ Stadium on a Saturday night, the College fought immensely for a hard fought 1-0 overtime victory against the Messiah College Falcons. The first period was a back and forth affair where the Falcons and Lions approached into a stalemate. The Falcons started off with two penalty corners from Taylor Holt. Smith came in with a defensive save after blocking a shot from Falcon Carissa Gehman. By the seventh minute, the Lions attempted to counter with a few penalty corners from Douglas. However, both Smith and Wagner’s shots were blocked. The Lions’ defense gained a firm grip on the Falcon’s offense as they stopped shots from freshman midfielder Kaylor Rosenberry. At the 22nd minute, Douglas launched a shot towards the corner of the net, but Falcon freshman goalie Shelby Landes deflected it with her right foot.
The second period featured more defense and urgency from both the Cavaliers and the Lions as they tried to finish the match with the clock ticking down. Schlupp had a clutch performance as she recorded four saves to maintain the tie. In the meantime, the Lions’ offense struggled to find the net with missed shots from Smith and freshman midfielder Kayla Mosser. At the 64th minute, the Lions’ offense came close to a goal when Wagner’s shot ricocheted off the post. The game proceeded to overtime after the Lions foiled a last minute penalty corner from Falcon Holt.
Heading into overtime for the first time this season, the Lions quickly marked the scoreboard. Morrison attempted to score but Falcon goalie Landes kicked off the shot with her right leg. With Barrett taking penalty corners in place of Douglas, Smith shot a long drive towards the net and Barrett created a signature moment by scoring the game winning goal.
In all, the Lions and Falcons both recorded nine shots while the Lion’s stellar defense was aided by Schlupp’s six saves.
Cimilluca says her team’s defense is what kept them in the game.
“Our defense stepped up huge throughout the entire game,” she said. “Our defense is really emerging as a solid and strong unit. Juniors Lexi Smith and Shannon Cowles’ consistent play was really evident throughout the entire game and they helped our team a lot. Overall, it was nice for the game to finish in our favor and for us to capitalize so early in the overtime period.”
With a 5-0 start to the season, the Lions continue to play at home with a matchup against the Salisbury University Seagulls on Saturday, Sept. 26.