SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (Sept. 6, 2012) – Mount Holyoke College gained an early lead and held off the Bison late in the second half, enroute to a 2-1 win over Nichols College on Thursday evening at the MHC Turf Field. The victory moves the Lyons to 2-0 overall, while the Bison are now 2-1 on the season.
Mount Holyoke took the first lead of the game at 7:31 as first year Anna Hartman (Montpelier, Vt./Montpelier) made a heads-up play on a loose ball in traffic. Sophomore Kirsten Kilburn (North Branford, Conn./North Branford) started the play when she fired a shot toward the goal, which the netminder came out the stop. The ball slid behind the keeper to Hartman, who buried it for the 1-0 advantage.
Both teams had their chances throughout the remainder of the first half, but neither could take advantage as Nichols goalie Molly Melanson (Simsbury, Conn./Simsbury) stopped four shots in the opening 35 minutes, while her counterpart, Anne O'Byrne (Newbury, N.H./Proctor Academy) had two saves.
The second half saw the tempo quickly pick up as both teams fought to add to the scoreboard. The homestanding Lyons struck first in the frame as senior captain Stephanie Pascual (Lawrence, Mass./Proctor Academy (N.H.) was awarded at penalty stroke at the 45:24 mark, firing a shot into the right corner of the goal.
Nichols fought back less than a minute later, finally getting onto the scoreboard at 46:08 as sophomore Jenn Townsend (Wethersfield, Conn./Wethersfield) deflected a shot just in front of O'Byrne, which went up over the goaltender and into the back of the box. Senior Emily Widdison (Greenfield, Mass./Greenfield), who took the initial shot from just inside the scoring arc, was credited with the assist.
Both teams continued to fight down the stretch, but the goaltending on each side proved to be too much. O'Byrne made several fantastic stops, including a diving save off a Meghan Dombkowski (Sagaponak, N.Y./East Hampton) shot that tipped off gloves.
Pascual, who netted the Lyons second goal, also came up big following the O'Byrne save as she was able to knock away a shot by Townsend that would have given Nichols the equalizer.
Mount Holyoke held a 23-11 shot advantage in the contest and a 13-5 edge in penalty corners. O'Byrne moved to 2-0 on the season with six saves, while Melanson slipped to 1-1 with eight stops on the night.
The Lyons are back in action on Saturday when they host Castleton State at the Turf Field at 1pm. Nichols returns to the field on September 11 in a 7pm match against Clark.