NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College field hockey team was downed by the Warriors from Merrimack College, 2-1, in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship game played at Duane Stadium.
Saint Anselm, the fourth-seed in the 2018 NE10 Field Hockey Championship, saw a nine-game winning streak end, falling to 15-6 on the season. The Hawks will now wait for a potential at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championship - in the last NCAA East Region rankings, the Hawks were ranked fourth. Sunday's appearance in the league championship game was the second in team history for the Hawks, who last appeared in 2016.
Merrimack, the second-seeded program in the NE10 Championship, improves to 16-3 on the season. The Warriors, who will also see if they get an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championship, won their first league title in three opportunities.
The NCAA Division II Selection Show will air on Monday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. on NCAA.com.
The Warriors dominated play in the game's final 15 minutes, never letting the Hawks into the offensive zone during that timeframe. With time ticking down, the Hawks were unable to clear the ball out of their defensive zone despite several great defensive stops.
With under 30 seconds, another Hawks turnover on a clearance attempt was brought back into the circle. With overwhelming offensive pressure, Merrimack was awarded a penalty corner with time expired. On a loose ball in front of the Saint Anselm goal, one of the region's top players, Mary McNeil, scored the game-winning marker on a scramble in front.
Merrimack's Miranda Judd put the hosts up by a 1-0 margin with only 10:30 expired in regulation time. McNeil fed Judd on the left side of the goal for the game's first strike. McNeil picked up an assist on Judd's seventh goal of the year.
Junior Hannah Friend (North Easton, Mass.) fired home her sixth goal of the season only 5:05 later, tying the game at one. Off of a Hawks penalty corner, the ball was sent to the top of the arc by junior Michelle Lemelin (Chelsea, Maine). A long pass was sent to the crease where it bounced off a player in the crowded Merrimack slot, but Friend was able to corral the ball for the goal.
Friend exits play needing only five points of offense to set the all-time career point scoring record for Saint Anselm. With her 26th career goal, she has recorded 70 career points (26-18=70) with 18 assists, falling one shy of tying the program record of 19 set by Mia Vecchione '18. Her 1.11 points per game across a 63-game career already stands as the team's all-time record.
Sophomore Julia Hand (Reading, Mass.) drew the loss for the Hawks, yielding two goals on seven shots. Katharina Ohmen, the league's Goalkeeper of the Year, yielded one goal on five shots against.
The Warriors finished with the edge in shots taken, 12-to-8, and due to their overwhelming offensive pressure in the final half, were issued seven penalty corners alone in the final 35 minutes. Merrimack finished with the 9-to-8 edge in penalty corners through 70 minutes.