Springfield, Mass. – November 12, 2008 – Springfield sophomore Meg Bradley (Cumberland, R.I.) finished a feed from Jill Urtz (Verona, N.Y.) with just over four minutes remaining in the first half to lift the Springfield College field hockey team to a 1-0 victory over Keene State in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championships.
With the victory, Springfield advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and will travel to take on Tufts on Saturday at 11:00 am in Medford, Mass.
Springfield improves to 16-6 on the year, while the Owls’ season comes to a close with an 18-6 record. With the win, Springfield was able to avenge a 2-1 loss to Keene State in the Pride's third game of the season (Sept. 9).
"We came out very prepared. Our intensity was there right from the start, and it was probably the best passing I have seen from us all season," said Springfield head coach Melissa Rogers.
The Pride, which has been to the last five NCAA Tournaments, enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half, taking 18 shots and having five penalty corners. Becca Gamble (Granby, Conn.) and Jane Kelleher (Chatham, Mass.) both had several outstanding scoring chances for Springfield, but Keene goalkeeper Vicki Stoessel (Derry, N.H.) was up to the task. In the first half alone, Stoessel made 14 stops in the cage for the Owls.
The Pride tallied the only goal of the game with just over four minutes remaining in the opening half. Off a penalty corner, Urtz, a senior co-captain, pushed a centering pass from just to the right of the top of the circle. Bradley took the feed and made no mistake as she unleashed a shot from 10 yards out into the back of the cage, giving the home Pride a 1-0 advantage.
"Meg has been playing with a broken thumb, but she has been playing through the pain," said Rogers. "I am still not surprised she is the one who scored. From there, it was just a case of trying to keep the momentum in the second half."
For the Owls, Carly Benning (Brewster, Mass.) had the two best chances for the visitors in the first half. On both occasions, Benning drove in from the left hand side of the cage but was unable to get off a shot.
In the second stanza, Keene State was much more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball, outshooting the Pride 10-7 in the stanza. Aislyn Sherry (Rehoboth, Mass.) caused fits for the Pride's defense as she was able to get several shots in from in close. With just over 13 minutes remaining in the contest, Sherry was on the doorstep and let off two shots, but Springfield keeper Alison McCarthy (North Andover, Mass.) denied the Owls' scoring chances with a pair of great saves.
Keene State's final best scoring chance of the game came with 10:15 remaining as Alyssa Rowell fired a shot from the top of the circle, which McCarthy kicked away.
"Springfield came out more aggressive, more powerful, and stronger than I thought they would, so we had to make some adjustments, which we did," said Keene State head coach Amy Watson. " In the first 20 minutes, we really struggled. We had our chances, but we were just not sharp at the net. Vicki had a great game in goal for us tonight, but Springfield just beat us. It was a great season."
Stoessel finished with 20 saves in goal for the Owls while McCarthy earned the shutout victory with eight saves. Keene State finished with an 8-6 lead in penalty corners in the game.