EASTON, Mass. – The No. 5 Saint Anselm College field hockey team suffered a gut-wrenching 1-0 setback to No. 4 LIU Post in an NCAA Field Hockey Championship Semifinal matchup on Friday night at W.B. Mason Stadium in Easton, Mass.
Saint Anselm wraps up its season at 17-5 overall, setting a new program record for wins in a season, while advancing to the National Semifinals for the first time in program history. LIU Post (16-3) advances to take on Shippensburg University in the National Championship game on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
The Hawks controlled play early, taking six of the first seven corners in the game while holding a slight 3-2 lead in shots through the first 11 minutes of action. Allia Connolly had the best scoring opportunity of the period for Saint Anselm as she fired a shot through the Pioneer defense that missed just wide in the fifth minute.
LIU Post had a chance in the 31st minute when Emily Miller found herself alone in front of the cage. Miller's shot was saved, but it led to a penalty corner for the Pioneers. Steph Mocerinco took the first shot on the corner that was turned away, but the ball came out to Alyssa Lopresti. Lopresti snuck a shot by Sears, but it trickled wide of its mark and the score remained 0-0 with less than four minutes to play in the opening half.
Emily Miller had one more chance for LIU Post before the end of the half as Miller got behind the Saint Anselm defense, but Sears slid to her left and kicked the ball away, running out time on the first half.
Saint Anselm took control early in the second half as they atempted the first four penalty corners and two shots of the period. Leika Scott and Rose Mooney both missed wide off shot attempts following penalty corners.
LIU Post had their first chance of the second half in the 53rd minute as Grace Ilias played the ball in on a penalty corner. The ball eventually found the stick of Melissa Quintanilla, but her shot was blocked wide by the Saint Anselm defense.
Near the end of the second half, the Hawks earned their 12th corner of the game and the Hawks nearly took advantage. Rose Mooney had a shot in front turned away by Ericka Parks and Leika Scott was there for the rebound. Parks punched her shot away, but it came back out to Mooney, and the senior fired on net, but Parks was there again for the sprawling save to preserve the 0-0 tie.
The two teams ran out the clock on regulation, and for the third time this season, overtime would be needed to decide a winner.
Mary Nee nearly had the game winner in overtime as she took a pass on the right side and fired a shot that was kicked away by Ericka Parks. With the Pioneers in possession, LIU Post called the first timeout of the game.
Out of the break, LIU Post worked the ball up the field and eventually Julie Gysels took a free hit from near midfield and smashed it into the circle. Emily Miller stepped in front of her defender and tipped the ball past Katherine Sears to give LIU Post the 1-0 victory, 7:03 into overtime.
The Hawks held a 12-9 edge in shots in the game, while also holding a 12-4 advantage in penalty corners. Katherine Sears made five saves in the game for the Hawks, while Ericka Parks stopped seven shots.
Elizabeth Alie, Jennifer Brown and Katherine Sears have all been selected to play in the NFHCA Senior Game, which will take place on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at W.B. Mason Stadium on the campus of Stonehill College.
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