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Field hockey falls short in NCAA match

By Miguel Gonzalez
Staff Writer

Morrison and Wagner try to help the Lions’ offense. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Morrison and Wagner try to help the Lions’ offense. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

In a rematch of last year’s NCAA tournament semifinal, the College’s field hockey team was defeated by the Middlebury College Panthers, 4-1, on Saturday, Nov. 21.

The Panthers capitalized early in the match and barricaded the Lions’ offense. In the fourth minute, the Panthers earned a penalty corner and sophomore defender Caroline Knapp passed the ball to the top of the circle. Senior defender Shannon Hutteman received the pass and shot it to the far post. Meanwhile, junior forward Pam Schulman rushed to the box and scored off a deflection.

Five minutes later, the Panthers scored again when freshman midfielder Grace Jennings dribbled through the left side and sent a pass to sophomore midfielder Annie Leonard. Leonard then completed the goal with a fast shot toward junior goalie Kelly Schlupp.

The Panthers continued to put pressure on the Lions’ defense with three more shots. The Panthers later extended the lead to 3-0 in the 28th minute when Knapp scored off a rebound on the far post. Immediately, freshman forward Elizabeth Morrison gained possession from the Panthers and shot toward the box. Panther junior goalie Emily Miller ran out and kicked the shot for a save. The Lions had two more chances to score with shots from freshman forward Taylor Barrett and junior defender Lexi Smith.

The Lions were able to tally their side of the scoreboard in the second period. However, it was too late for a comeback. In the 42nd minute, Panther forward Schulman dribbled toward Schlupp. Schulman instantly slid through Schlupp and poked the ball to the near post. With a 4-0 deficit, the Lions scrambled for a scoring opportunity.

With the seven minutes remaining in the second period, the Lions scored their first goal when junior midfielder/forward Jaclyn Douglas shot the ball to the far post with an assist from Morrison. Despite the late push, the Panthers ultimately won the match, 4-1. The Panthers then went on to defeat the Bowdoin College Polar Bears, 1-0, on their way to winning the national championship.   

While the Lions did not fulfill this year’s goal of defending their championship title, much was accomplished throughout the season. The Lions helped head coach Sharon Pfluger earn her 1000th career victory with a dominant win against Gwynedd Mercy University on Thursday, Oct. 1. The Lions were able to extend the previous season’s winning streak to a mounting 27 games. The season was also abundant with memorable games, such as the overtime home victories against Messiah College and Salisbury University. Altogether, the Lions recorded 12 shutout victories and the defense conceded only 18 goals. Schlupp finished the season with 64 saves. At the same time, the team scored a whopping 88 goals and was never shutout during the season. The team’s leading scoring players were Smith (21 goals), Douglas (17 goals) and senior forward Alicia Wagner (17 goals).

With senior players Wagner and Mikayla Cimilluca graduating soon, Smith commented on their greatest attributes during the time on the team. 

“Mikayla and Alicia are more than just exceptional field hockey players. They are both phenomenal leaders,” Smith said. “Mikayla is central to our midfield and Alicia has a way of scoring goals in the most important situations. Both Mikayla and Alicia have been an integral part of the program over their careers, especially last season. We would not have been as successful as we were this season or last if it weren’t for both Mikayla and Alicia.”

With the defeat in mind, the Lions will approach the subsequent season with more experience and determination than ever before. The mission? Bringing home championship number 10.

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