WELLESLEY, Mass. (November 5, 2006) – The Springfield College field hockey team defeated host and #1-seeded Wellesley College, 5-4, this afternoon to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference post-season tournament and claim the automatic NCAA Division III Tournament berth that goes along with it.
With the win, #17-ranked and #2-seeded Springfield is now 17-5 overall, after winning three consecutive games in NEWMAC post-season play. Eight days ago, Springfield had beaten Smith, 4-0, at home in a quarterfinal match. Then yesterday in the semifinals at Wellesley, SC had beaten #3-seeded Wheaton, 4-1.
With the loss, Wellesley is now 15-3.
This was Springfield’s third consecutive NEWMAC championship, making Head Coach Melissa Rogers three-for-three in NEWMAC title games since she came on board three years ago.
Earlier this season, Wellesley had handed Springfield its only NEWMAC loss, 2-1, on October 21 on the very same field. Both of those squads finished the conference portion of their seasons with 7-1 records, but Wellesley grabbed the #1-seed by virtue of its head-to-head victory over the Pride.
Wellesley took a 2-0 lead in the first 15 1/2 mnutes of the game. But a goal by sophomore forward Jane Kelleher (Chatham, Mass.) on a penalty stroke at 28:41 seemed to open the floodgates for the Pride. SC then scored three goals in a one minute-50 second span, the last coming with just 8 seconds left before the intermission. The three goals were scored by freshman back Emilyann Murray (Boonton, N.J.), sophomore forward Allie Eisele (Walton, N.Y.) and Kelleher once again. And SC led, 4-2, at the half.
At 4:45 of the second half, junior forward Brittany Veazie (Dexter, Maine) scored what looked like an insurance goal. What was not known at the time was that that goal turned out to be the game-winner. Wellesley scored twice more, at 53:08 and at 58:14, pulling to within one with just under 12 minutes to go. From there, the Pride managed to hold on, although Wellesley was putting on the pressure.Junior goalkeeper Emma Kaplan (Ridgefield, Conn.) was credited with six saves and two goals against for SC in the game's first 35 minutes. Then junior GK Julia Kincade (Durham, N.H.) just about equaled those totals with seven saves and two goals against for SC in the second half. Wellesley outshot SC, 24-22, including 13-6 in the second half. Springfield had the edge in penalty corners, 9-7.
Springfield will learn its NCAA fate much later tonight (Sunday, Nov 5). Opening round games will be played on campus sites as early as Wednesday, November 8. The Final Four is scheduled to be played at William Smith College on November 17-18.