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NCAA D-III Field Hockey Playoffs: Eagles take lumps, but advance to quarterfinals

BAKER, CHARNEY PACE

UMW PAST EASTERN;

WILL PLAY LYNCHBURG TODAY

BY KURT NICOLL

FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR

Caitlin Baker took three spills during Saturday’s second round of the NCAA Division III second-round playoffs at the University of Mary Washington, and, except for some facial grimaces and shaking her limbs a few times, she played on.

“I’m pretty well, but I’ll go to the training room and ice up and be ready to go tomorrow,” the junior forward from Falls Church said after the Eagles got past Eastern University, 3–1.

The victory set the stage for today’s third-round game against Lynchburg College, with the winner advancing to next week’s Final Four at William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y.

The doubleheader drew 600 spectators to the Battleground Athletic Complex on the UMW campus.

A collision five minutes into the second half between Baker and Eastern’s Kelby Bolton resulted in a two-minute penalty against Bolton and created a man-advantage, which the Eagles capitalized on quickly.

An Eastern defender fell on the ball while in the circle, stopping play and resulting in a penalty shot. UMW’s Lisa Charney, who netted the Eagles’ first-half goal, made it eight-for-eight in penalty opportunities, faking to the goalie’s left, then firing a shot high in the opposite corner.

“I always know where I’m going to go. If I can get into the goalie’s head, that’s an added bonus,” the Capital Athletic Conference’s co-Player of the Year said. “Last year I went from winning five games to winning 15 and going further in the conference. This year has been a dream come true. It’s exhilarating.”

Originally considering UMW for her education, Charney expressed disillusionment over the “me” attitude of her teammates at Appalachian State and transferred here after her sophomore season.

“I just wasn’t happy there,” the senior from Fairfax said. “Everyone here works for the team and that’s what I love here.”

Eastern’s chances to get back into the contest suffered a blow when another player was sent to the sidelines, and the team had to play shorthanded for five minutes.

With 8:40 left, Amy Abernathy netted the Eagles’ third goal with Baker assisting.

In shooting for its first Final Four appearance in 19 years, UMW seems to be peaking at the right time, especially on defense.

“I think the defense has really stepped it up the second part of the season,” said Haley Kane, a freshman from Massaponax who assisted on Charney’s first goal. “We have really worked on pressure outside of the circle—not even letting the offense come in. I think we have done a fairly good job of executing that.”

Coach Lindsey Elliott added: “I think we’re on the right path. We got the first-game jitters out of the way. Hopefully, we’ll come in tomorrow and play hard from the first whistle.”

Today’s final is set for 1 p.m.

LYNCHBURG 2, MESSIAH 0

The Hornets turned in a strong defensive effort and got an outstanding individual game from Shelby Milks, who scored a goal and assisted on another and barely missed converting a second shot, which hit the right crossbar and bounced out.

With the score 1–0, neither team managed a shot on goal the first 11 minutes of the second half, then the Falcons had a furious two-minute assault that included four corners, but could not convert.

Lynchburg then settled matters as Ashley Nelson scored an insurance goal with 11 minutes remaining.

Hannah Myers, a junior from Colonial Forge, was in goal for the shutout, recording six saves.

“When the ball goes out there at the top of the circle, I know everyone is covered and all I have to worry about is the shots,” she said. “Last year we made it to the Elite Eight” before losing to eventual champion College of New Jersey.

“That pushed [motivated] us that this year we have to push ourselves every inch to the ball in order to win the whole thing.”

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