No. 10 field hockey earns hard-fought NE10 Quarterfinals victory over SNHU

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College field hockey team battled its cross-town rival Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday night at Grappone Stadium. The Hawks became winners of eight-straight games following the squad's 4-2 victory over the Penmen.

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Saint Anselm, ranked 10th in NCAA Division II by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, moves to 14-5 overall on the season while the Penmen see their season come to a close with a 10-9 overall mark. The Hawks entered play as the fourth seed in the NE10 Championship while the Penmen earned the fifth seed.

The Hawks will host an NE10 Semifinals game this Friday, Nov. 16 at Grappone Stadium as top-seeded Pace was stunned by the eighth-seeded Greyhounds from Assumption College by a 1-0 score. By virtue of the higher seed, Saint Anselm will take on the Greyhounds with the right to compete in the NE10 Championship game slated for Sunday, Nov. 18.

Cassidy Huckins opened the scoring for Southern New Hampshire only 14:27 into regulation time, but sophomore Ericka Meissner (East Falmouth, Mass.) brought the game even only 28 seconds later with her third goal of the season, tipping home a lengthy pass from sophomore Kendall Clifford (South Easton, Mass.).

Junior Michelle Lemelin (Chelsea, Maine) propelled her team to a 2-1 lead just over 10 minutes later with her sixth goal of the season, halting a shot that was sent in junior Hannah Friend (North Easton, Mass.). Settling the ball down in front between her feet, a quick wrap-around shot by Lemelin found the back of the net.

Only 10:08 into the second half, Friend potted a goal of her own during a penalty corner. After Lemelin put the ball into play from the goal line, senior Mary Nee (Canton, Mass.) halted the ball just outside of the circle and sent it in toward net. A nice tip play from senior Maddie Bressler (Franklin, Mass.) sent the ball toward the right post where it was slapped home by Friend to create a 3-1 madvantage.

After a Penmen goal was waved off only five minutes later, Katelin Oberlander scored only her second career goal for Southern New Hampshire. After an initial Penmen shot was saved by Hand, the ball was kicked right out to Hélène Servais, who found the stick of Oberlander on a tip play to cut into the Hawks advantage, 3-2, with just under 20 minutes to go in regulation time.

With the netminder pulled for Southern New Hampshire with just over three minutes left in regulation time, senior Abby Walker (Scarborough, Maine) intercepted the ball at midfield and started transition the other way. Friend sprinted toward the empty cage, but had to fight off several Penmen defenders, including Oberlander who donned the goaltender jersey as a field player.

Friend's shot attempt eluded several Penmen defenders as freshman Sarah Bagley (North Andover, Mass.) crashed the net and poked the pass home for her second career goal through a maze of sticks to create a two-goal cushion down the stretch.

The Penmen had the final five shot attempts of the game after Bagley's tally. Saint Anselm netminder Julia Hand (Reading, Mass.) was up to the task, making two saves while the Hawks defensive unit had three blocked shots, including one by junior Kaeleigh Lord (Keene, N.H.) with five seconds left off the stick of Laura van der Doorn.

Hand finished with 10 saves to her credit, improving to 12-5 on the season, while Rennie allowed three goals on three shots. The fourth goal was issued to the team as Rennie departed the goal with 3:40 left in regulation time.

Saint Anselm held a 5-1 advantage in shots in the first half, but the Penmen ripped 16 of the game's final 19 shots in the loss. Southern New Hampshire was issued seven of its eight total penalty corners in the second half, carrying the game's 8-5 edge in the statistic.

The Hawks have now won all nine games played between the Penmen since their debut as a modern-day varsity program in 2014.