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UMW field hockey: Mary Washington advances to Final Four
BY KURT NICOLL
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Playing from behind is a frequent occurrence for the University of Mary Washington field hockey team. Coach Lindsey Elliott hopes to end that trend at this weekend’s NCAA Division III tournament in New York.
“I wish we wouldn’t do it, but I’m definitely confident in the girls that they will be able to battle back from behind,” the second-year coach said after the Eagles’ 3–2 quarterfinal victory over visiting Lynchburg College on Sunday. “Overall, we’re a second-half team. They definitely play a lot better and a tighter game in the second half.
Before a crowd of 463 fans, many wearing red in support of the visiting Hornets, Lynchburg grabbed a 1–0 lead at the 28:15 mark on a rebound shot by sophomore Katie Kline, a product of Colonial Forge High School. It came on the Hornets’ sixth shot attempt of the game.
Eagles standout Lisa Charney was the center of attention in more ways than one. After tying the game with her 25th goal of the season—a team single-season scoring mark—the Capital Athletic Conference co-Player of the Year was struck in the mouth by a low-flying ball, chipping a tooth and a giving her a cut on the lip that needed stitches to close. The injury forced her to the sidelines for 10 minutes.
Just 31 seconds after the mishap, Florence George netted a rebound shot to put the Eagles ahead, 2–1.
The Hornets’ Lindsey Leonard scored the tying goal off an assist by Johanna Agustin with 13:13 left in the game, setting the stage for final heroics by Charney and junior Caitlin Baker four minutes later.
The Hornets’ Hannah Myers made a sprawling save of Charney’s initial bullet, but Baker was on the doorstep and flipped it over the opposing goalie.
“A lot of people will just keep hitting it,” said Baker, who felt a twinge of pain on the shot due to strained ligaments she sustained in her shoulder several weeks ago. “You know to lift it, but it’s actually harder to do.”
Charney gave her teammate high marks for the shot placement: “As the ball comes off the goalie, our goal is to get the rebound and put it right back in the goal. Caitlin executed it beautifully. It could not have been a more perfect goal.”
Lynchburg (19–4) outshot UMW 12–7 in the first half, and the Eagles were fortunate to surrender only one goal as Lisa Charney and freshman defender Hunter Causey combined for three defensive stops.
“My defense has my back,” veteran Eagles goalkeeper Claire Gianelle said. “I have confidence if I have to come out for a ball or anything, they’re behind me. We’re a defensive unit, not just a person back there.”
The senior from Salisbury, Md., felt confident the Eagles (20–1) would come back from a one-goal deficit, but grew nervous during the last five minutes as the Eagles withstood a furious Lynchburg assault to tie the game, while UMW played short-handed due to a penalty.
Still, the Eagles limited the number of scoring opportunities the Hornets had in the second half while forging a 6–3 shot advantage and a 5–2 edge in penalty corners.
“I think it makes us stronger and maybe lights a fire under us—work harder and push the ball to the back of the cage,” Charney said about her team’s penchant for slow starts.
All four Lynchburg losses were by one goal, twice 3–2 margins to UMW.
Coach Elliott believes the Eagles have the skills to compete in the Final Four, just needing to be mentally ready to put two good halves together.