CHAMPIONSHIP BOUND! Field Hockey Overpowers Babson in NEWMAC Tournament Semifinals

CHAMPIONSHIP BOUND! Field Hockey Overpowers Babson in NEWMAC Tournament Semifinals

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Nov. 5, 2011) – Junior defender Stephanie Pascual and senior forward Jess Fajardo knocked in two goals apiece, as the second-seeded Mount Holyoke College field hockey team raced to a 7-2 triumph over sixth-seeded Babson College in the semifinal round of the NEWMAC Tournament this afternoon at Jack Barry Field.

Jess Fajardo Mount Holyoke finished with overwhelming advantages in both shots (34-9) and penalty corners (20-10). After scoring just one time in the first half, the Lyons exploded for six goals over a span of 19:18 in the second stanza to create separation. It was their fifth consecutive victory.

With the win, Mount Holyoke improved to 13-4 on the year and punched its ticket to the NEWMAC Championship for the fourth time in program history. The Lyons will face off against top-seeded MIT tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. in search of their first conference title since the 2003 season. The winner of that match will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA National Tournament.

MIT advanced with a convincing 8-2 victory over fourth-seeded Springfield College in today's first semifinal. The Engineers entered the tournament as the top seed by virtue of their 3-2 triumph over Mount Holyoke on October 15. Both squads went 6-2 in league play to earn a share of the NEWMAC Regular Season Championship.

In three previous appearances in the NEWMAC Championship, Mount Holyoke has come out on top two times. Ironically, the Lyons squared off against Springfield all three times. After falling 2-1 to the Pride in 1999, they prevailed 1-0 in 2001 and 2-1 in 2003.

MIT will be playing in the NEWMAC Championship for the third year in a row and fifth time overall. The Engineers claimed titles in 1994 and 2009. They fell 6-1 to Babson last fall.

Mount Holyoke jumped out to a 1-0 advantage at the 1:46 mark, when Pascual converted her fifth penalty stroke of the year. Sophomore forward Stephanie Slysz created the opportunity with a shot from point blank range on the left side. After making the save, Babson goalkeeper Jess Pashos covered up the loose ball in front of her cage. Pascual proceeded to bury the ensuing stroke with a shot to the left side.

The Lyons kept the pressure on for the remainder of the half, piling up 21 shots and 14 corners. Despite their efforts, they were unable to slip another shot past Pashos, who came up with 12 saves before the break.

With the outcome of the match still in the balance, Mount Holyoke erupted for six goals in the second stanza.

Fajardo opened up the floodgates with her first tally of the day at the 43:20 mark. Following some initial confusion, officials ruled that her shot crossed the line before a defensive save by senior Erika Hansen.

After Pascual used a Slysz feed to score her second goal of the day at the 46:28 mark, Fajardo extended the lead to 4-0 off an assist from junior forward Angelica Pascual just over three minutes later.

The rally continued with back-to-back goals from senior forward Shara Robertson and Angelica Pascual in the 53rd and 56th minutes, respectively. Robertson will enter the NEWMAC Championship with a team-best 20 tallies.

Babson (9-12, 4-4 NEWMAC) broke through for its first goal of the day at the 58:41 mark, when senior forward Courtney Weaving scored off an assist from sophomore midfielder Alex Cabreros.

Just under four minutes later, first year forward Christine Ianni collected a pass from senior midfielder Taylor Hedges and beat Pashos for Mount Holyoke's seventh goal of the afternoon.

Sophomore forward Morgan Lockwood responded with her 21st tally of the year in the waning minutes, but it was not enough.

Senior goalkeeper Katie Gibson needed to stop just two shots to earn her 13th win of the year for Mount Holyoke.

At the other end, Pashos finished with 16 saves.

Outside Photo by Leila Quinn '12