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NCAA D-III Field Hockey semifinal: Red Hawks peck away Eagles’ dream





GENEVA, N.Y.—All throughout the playoffs, the players on the University of Mary Washington field hockey team had proven themselves to be modern-day comeback kids.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, those rally knacks failed them just when they needed them the most.

With a spot in the NCAA Division III championship game hanging in the balance, third-ranked UMW fell hard to No. 2 Monclair State, 4–0, in a national semifinal game played Saturday at William H. Smith College’s McCooey Field.

The Eagles (20–2) fell behind by three goals in the first half and were never able to challenge the Red Hawks (22–1), who will meet unranked Tufts University today in the Division III championship game.

“That was not a very good display of our season, [or] of what we’ve been playing the past 20 games,” Eagles’ senior midfielder Florence George said, “We didn’t represent ourselves very well. Not all all.”

Senior forward Lisa Charney’s thoughts were even more pointed.

“That was not UMW hockey,” said Charney, who was held off the score sheet after having led the Eagles with 25 goals this year. “We didn’t play to our potential.”

Most of the damage was done midway through the first half during one disastrous span of one minute and 8 seconds, when the Eagles were torched for two goals.

The first of those came at 15:20 on a penalty stroke by Montclair junior Stephanie Lewis.

The Eagles had just weathered a pair of MSU penalty corners when the stroke was awarded after a UMW defender stopped an airborne ball with her body.

Lewis took aim at a spot just inside the left post and pocketed it just beyond the desperate lunge of UMW goalie Claire Gianelle.

Falling behind by a goal had not been a problem for the Eagles, recently, as they had trailed in each of their previous four contests, all of them in the playoffs.

However, moments later, Mary Washington fell behind 2–0 when Montclair’s Brooke Hullings scored off another penalty corner.

“I think we needed to do a better job of stepping up to the ball,” said UMW coach Lindsey Elliott. “We kind of let them dictate the play of the game, instead of us playing our style. Unfortunately, with them getting those goals, it set us back again.”

Although there was still plenty of time left, a UMW comeback was looking less likely.

“The hole was getting deeper,” George said. “We knew that we could do it. It was just a matter of getting that first goal. Once we get the first goal, we get the momentum rolling. And we couldn’t get it in the cage today.”

Mary Washington’s lot became more desperate with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, when Lewis converted off a penalty corner to make it 3–0.

The Eagles’ fate was sealed midway through the second half when MSU’s Frances Schaefer capped the scoring.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Eagles were able to take some comfort in their accomplishment of reaching the Final Four for the second time in school history, and first since 1993.

“The bond we’ve created,” George said, “is stronger than anything I’ve been part of.”

Said Charney, “We’re a family. Thick and thin.”