MANCHESTER, N.H. – The No. 5 ranked Saint Anselm College field hockey team rallied with three goals in the second half to defeat No. 6 Stonehill College, 3-1, in an NCAA Championship First Round matchup on Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium in Manchester, N.H.
The Hawks improve to 17-4 overall and will advance to take on the East Region's top seed in No. 4 LIU Post on Friday night at 5 p.m. at W.B. Mason Stadium on the campus of Stonehill College.
The first half was a game of field position as neither offense could get much going, while both goalies made saves when the opportunities did arise. Sarah Freedman made three saves in the first 35 minutes of action, while Katherine Sears made one stop.
Stonehill finally broke through near the end of the first half as they were awarded a penalty corner with 1:43 remaining in the period. After Michaela Antonellis had a shot in front blocked down, Hannah Gifford was there for the rebound, depositing the ball in the back of the net to send the Skyhawks into halftime with the 1-0 lead.
Saint Anselm found the equalizer early in the second half as Mia Vecchione came down the right side and fired a shot to the opposite post that found Emma Kincaid wide open for the tap-in goal that tied the game at 1-1 only 4:41 into the second half.
Sears would be tested over the next 14 minutes, but she made three saves against the Skyhawks to preserve the 1-1 tie.
The Hawks finally broke through in the 58th minute as Leika Scott worked her way from midfield and through the Stonehill defense. Scott moved to her left and fired a backhanded shot that squeezed through the pads of Freedman and into the cage to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Saint Anselm added an insurance goal in the 66th minute as Maddie Bressler came down the right side and played a ball that was hit into the air by Freedman. Michelle Lemelin was there to bat it out of the air to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead with less than five minutes to play in regulation.
Sears would be challenged only one more time as she was forced to make a save on Shea Healy, but time was on Saint Anselm's side as the clock ran out and gave the Hawks their first NCAA Tournament win in program history.
Saint Anselm held a 14-8 edge in shots in the game, while Stonehill attempted six penalty corners to four for the home team. Katherine Sears made five saves to pick up her 17th win of the season.
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