Field hockey clinches Colonial tourney seed

Field hockey clinches Colonial tourney seed

By Nate Owen

The St. Louis Cardinals went more than a week during the final month of the regular season without a win. The same is true for the Northeastern field hockey team. The Cardinals won the World Series. The Huskies are hoping this parallel continues into the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championships.

Northeastern wrapped its regular season by splitting a pair of home games this past weekend. The Huskies (9-11, 4-4 CAA), defeated Virginia Commonwealth 2-1 in the fifth round of a strokeoff Friday. However, the momentum did not carry over to their next game, a 2-1 loss to James Madison in overtime. Despite the loss, Northeastern clinched the No. 4 seed in the CAA and the right to host William ‘ Mary 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at Sweeney Field.

In Friday’s game Northeastern took an early 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal by junior forward Stephanie Casper. The goal was her team-leading ninth of the season. The Huskies dominated the game early, outshooting VCU 12-2 in the opening half. They held a 13-2 edge in penalty corners.

The Rams managed to hang around thanks to some phenomenal work by their keeper, junior Brittany LoVullo, who finished the day with 12 saves. Her efforts paid off when VCU sophomore forward Nikki Lloyd scored her team-leading ninth goal of the year off a broken penalty corner, squeaking it by junior keeper Liz Centofanti.

The score remained knotted at one through two overtimes. Lovullo again came up big for the Rams. In the first overtime, she stared down a breakaway by junior forward Ashley Webber and without flinching, denied her the game-winner. Later, she made a pair of outstanding saves on a shots by Husky senior co-captain Whitney Shean.

The game went to a strokeoff, with both teams making their first two attempts. After a scoreless third round, senior back Natalie Singelais went top-corner to give the Huskies a 3-2 advantage. Freshman forward Vicky Smith missed a shot for the Rams and the stage was set for sophomore forward Rachel Wilkes, who beat LoVullo to give the victory to the Huskies and torpedo the Ram’s playoff hopes, as they fell to a 2-5 conference mark.

Northeastern’s second game also went into overtime, but this time there were no heroics to salvage a victory, as the Huskies fell 2-1 to James Madison Sunday.

The Huskies took an early 1-0 advantage when senior co-captain Sarah Eckhoff scored her fifth goal of the season in the 23rd minute off of a penalty corner play. She was assisted by Singelais. Northeastern again came out strong, holding a 5-1 edge in penalty corners at the end of the first half.

The Dukes were able to even the score in the second half when senior midfielder Baillie Versfield rifled a shot past Centofanti to tie the game.

The game remained scoreless for the rest of regulation, sending the game into overtime. Just over seven minutes into the bonus period, freshman forward Meghan Bain sent a shot past Centofanti, giving the Dukes the victory and ruining the Husky’s bid for a .500 season.

Despite allowing the game-winning goal, Centofanti capped off a solid year, finishing with four shutouts, a .738 save percentage and 1.37 goals against average, down from 1.99 the year before.

“Liz has been really steady,” said head coach Cheryl Murtagh. “[In the first game against VCU] we allowed one strokeoff shot and she knew she had to have a save. [She’s] shown her ability to focus.”

Murtagh also said the strong play of Webber has helped create the offensive attack.

To succeed in the playoffs, the Huskies will have to continue to play good defense “that’s been keeping us in games,” she said.

Murtagh also said another key was the Huskies’ ability to score on penalty corners.

“We need to execute our penalty corners,” she said. “We are No. 1 in the conference at creating them, but not executing them.”

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