SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – Four different players found the back of the net to lift the Mount Holyoke College field hockey team to a 5-2 victory over Gwynedd-Mercy University in an NCAA Tournament First Round contest at the MHC Turf Field on Wednesday afternoon. With the victory, the Lyons improve to 18-2 overall and advance to the Second Round on Saturday against Montclair State at 11am. The Griffins conclude their season with a 12-9 record.
Additionally, the victory marks MHC's first in NCAA play. This is the third appearance in the national tournament for the Lyons, who lost twice in the Second Round previously in 2001 and 2003. Saturday's contest will begin at 11am against the host Red Hawks, who are the tournament's top-ranked team.
Holding a 1-0 lead after the first half of the game, the Lyons jumped out to a quick 3-0 advantage through the first 12 minutes of the second half. Junior Diana Banmann (Hannover, Germany/University of Potsdam) got things going just 1:59 into the frame after she corralled a feed from sophomore middie Sarah LaQuerre (Old Orchard Beach, Maine/Cheverus) and blasted it into the back of the cage.
Mount Holyoke made it a 3-0 contest in the 48th minute after first year forward Charlotte Wagner (West Chester, Pa./Westtown School) found a loose ball in front and banged it in past the reach of Griffins' keeper Kelly Kruk (Phoenixville, Pa./Methacton). Banmann started the play with an attempt to feed it across the goal mouth, but Kruk dove out to stop it. Unable to control the ball, Wagner took advantage for her 10th of the season.
After a series of back-to-back shots, the visiting Griffins finally broke onto the scoreboard in the 53rd minute as sophomore forward Katie O'Neill (Newtown, Pa./Council Rock North) found the ball near the back post and slipped it in. Senior forward Maria Karidas (Richboro, Pa./Council Rock South) earned the assist after her shot from the mid-circle went just past the reach of MHC goalie Liz DiCesare (Westford, Mass./Bishop Guertin).
Gwynedd-Mercy pulled to within one (3-2) less than two minutes later as Karidas found the ball in traffic at the goal mouth and poked it in. Senior defender Brianne Kline (York, Pa./Central York), who collected the ball at the top of the arc off the corner, earned the assist after her shot sailed into the zone.
The Lyons quickly answered as Wagner notched her second of the game in the 56th minute. The play began off the corner as junior midfielder Kirsten Kilburn (North Branford, Conn./North Branford) rifled a shot into the zone which was saved by Kruk. The ball was redirected back into the circle onto the stick of Banmann, who flipped it to the left for Wagner and the tally.
Mount Holyoke closed out the game's scoring in the 67th minute as Kilburn scored on a penalty stroke to make it a 5-2 margin. Despite several chances down the line, the Griffins could not get any closer.
The Lyons, who opened the game's scoring in the first half on a tally by sophomore Julia Bell (Longmeadow, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson), held a 16-12 advantage in shots. The teams were even in corner attempts with nine apiece.
In goal, DiCesare earned the victory, improving to 18-2 overall behind a seven save effort. Kruk made eight stops for the Griffins and finishes her season with a 12-9 mark.