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Field hockey headed for NCAA Tournament
For the second time in the last three years, the Quinnipiac field hockey squad has qualified for the NCAA after winning the NEC tournament last Sunday.
The women went into the past weekend’s NEC tournament, held in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, as the number three seed. The team had compiled a 7-10 record up to this point in the season. While this may not seem extremely impressive, their 3-2 conference record showed that this team could not be taken lightly.
The Bobcats opened the tournament facing number two seed Sacred Heart. If playing in this tournament was not enough motivation for the Bobcats, the fact they had dropped a close 2-1 decision at Sacred Heart earlier this season was. This previous match-up clearly foreshadowed what was to come in their second meeting.
Quinnipiac played another tough game, and scored the only goal of the game late in the first half. Sophomore Kristen McCarthy notched what turned out to be the game winner with 31:25 taken off the clock. The Bobcats tenacious defense did not falter and was able to contain Sacred Heart. Sophomore goalie Erin McKay only needed to record three saves in the win. With this victory, Quinnipiac advanced to the NEC title game for the fifth straight year. The Bobcats have made the final round in each of the five years since the tournament was formed.
With this emotional victory, the Bobcats advanced to face Rider in the final.This marked the fourth consecutive year in which the two teams met in the final.The Broncos played in the early game Friday afternoon, trouncing Siena 4-0.
With the daunting task of facing the number one seed, Quinnipiac did not turn away. Rather, the women geared up for the biggest game of their season. Once Sunday afternoon rolled around, both of these teams were ready to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Once again, McKay was solid in goal for the Bobcats. She stopped every shot she faced until there was a meager 2:20 remaining in the contest when Rider was able to get on the board to make it a 2-1 game in favor of the Bobcats. By this point, juniors Meredith Klein and Chelsea Osbrey had each tallied a goal. What little life Rider gained from this goal was not able to develop into a serious threat as the Bobcat defense held the ball for much of the remaining 2:20. When the final horn sounded, the Bobcats had accomplished an amazing tournament run. McKay had 11 saves in the tournament clinching victory. She also received MVP honors for her stellar work in goal. McKay allowed just one goal on the15 total shots she faced. This tournament title was the third the Bobcats have won since joining the NEC five years ago.
Head coach Becca Kohli described this title as the best the Bobcats have won. “It’s definitely sweeter this time around because no one expected us to win it. We don’t have any superstars, but we put together a team effort and stuck to the game plan against both Sacred Heart and Rider,” Kohli said.
The Field Hockey team will now have until Nov. 11 to prepare for their next challenge. They face the winner of the Patriot League at that team’s home field. They were not favored to win the NEC, so anything is possible in the eyes of the players and coaching staff.