ESU Field Hockey began its 2018 campaign by splitting its first two games against Merrimack College and Stonehill College on the road.
ESU beat Merrimack 3-2 in overtime, but Stonehill beat ESU 1-0 in the second game.
The Warriors got off to a flying start against Merrimack. ESU scored the first two goals to lead Merrimack 2-0 at halftime.
But Merrimack came back with two goals of its own to tie the game in regulation.
This game was decided in overtime when senior forward Bailey Quinn scored on a penalty stroke.
Then junior goalkeeper Maddie Richie made an outstanding save on a penalty corner to give the Warriors its first win of the season.
This is Richie’s first season as the team’s starting goalkeeper, and ESU Field Hockey Head Coach Sandy Miller praised her performance.
“She [Richie] saved the game for us,” Miller said.
The second road game pitted the Warriors against the Stonehill College Skyhawks.
ESU played competitively, but the Skyhawks blanked the Warriors 1-0.
The Stonehill game was decided on a controversial call when a penalty corner was awarded to the Skyhawks just before the first half ended.
Miller said, “It was a bad call. [ESU junior back Brianna] Sassaman jabbed it, but they [the referees] called her for pushing. But I didn’t see it,” said Miller.
Play continued after the corner. Stonehill sophomore back Elaine Bachelder passed the ball to senior forward Kacie Smith who shot the ball into the air and past Richie’s right arm for the game’s only goal.
Immediately after the goal was scored, a number of Warriors went up to the referee to protest the goal. Miller tried to explain what happened.
“When you shoot on goal, you can lift it for sure. But you shouldn’t be lifting it and making it dangerous,” Miller stated.
“Sassaman had to duck out of there to try to get out of the way because it was coming right at her,” Miller said.
Despite ESU’s protests, the goal was upheld. The Skyhawks led the Warriors 1-0 at halftime.
ESU outshot Stonehill 12-6 and held an 8-2 edge in penalty corners for the game.
But despite numerous scoring chances for ESU in the second half, the Warriors were not able to tie the game and force overtime.
Nevertheless, Miller and her Brains Trust are happy with where the team is at.
“Our first two weeks of the season were okay, but we picked it up last week,” said Miller.
“We played some awesome hockey last weekend,” stated Miller.
The Warriors will be playing top-ranked teams in the coming weeks.
“Our first five out of six games are against top ten teams [in the country]. So that is hopefully preparing us [for the season],” Miller said.
“In the long run that is going to help us, but it’s a great challenge for us,” Miller stated.
“And we have six starters that we replaced.”
“But Katie [Assistant Coach Katie Ord] and I feel a lot better coming back on the bus than going to the bus,” said Miller.
“We feel like we are in a fairly good place now, and the kids do, too,” stated Miller.
“We are feeling that we can win a national championship with continued hard work,” said Miller. “That is our ultimate goal.”
The Warriors will return to action against defending national champion Shippensburg University in a nonconference game at Whitenight Field on Sept. 19.
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