By Ronald Hanaki
On Sunday, Nov. 22, ESU’s field hockey team beat the Merrimack College Warriors 1-0 in overtime to capture their first national championship in school history.
ESU senior forward Ally Roth put away a penalty stroke in overtime for the only goal of the game.
The championship game pitted No. 1 seed ESU against No. 6 seed Merrimack. Despite the disparity in seeding, Merrimack used its outstanding team speed and defense to frustrate ESU.
Although ESU outshot Merrimack 26-9 in regulation, the score remained tied after seventy minutes because Merrimack senior goalkeeper Madison Davis was simply outstanding in goal.
Including overtime, Davis did her best Tim Howard impression in making a season-high eleven saves.
Two minutes into overtime, ESU junior back Emily Howell’s green card gave Merrimack a one-player advantage, but Merrimack was unable to score the winning goal.
A couple of minutes later, aggressive play from both teams resulted in ESU being awarded a penalty stroke that was converted by Roth.
ESU claimed its first NCAA Division II championship in school history.
It has been a banner year for field hockey head coach Sandy Miller.
“It’s pretty awesome. Just really proud of our young ladies. We spent over eighty hours on the bus traveling and the amount of time that we put in the weight room and practicing and playing on Whiteknight Field – it was a culmination of everything. It was outstanding… very special,” she said.
“Our fan support at our games was phenomenal. The support from the Athletic Department was outstanding. The ESU Athletics Administration had our backs and wished us the best, and that was pretty cool,” said Miller.
“Winning a championship puts a target on our backs next season, but we’ll keep putting the work in and having fun. If anything, we will work a bit harder to defend our title next year, but we are all ready for some relaxation,” said Miller.
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