WELLESLEY, Mass. — Wellesley College field hockey captured the 2014 NEWMAC Field Hockey Championship with a 1-0 overtime victory over Mount Holyoke College on Sunday afternoon at the Wellesley Outdoor Fields Complex.
Wellesley Junior Hannah Flesch scored her eighteenth goal of the season at 7:44 of overtime to capture the Blue's second consecutive NEWMAC field hockey tournament championship and eighth in program history.
#10 Wellesley, the tournament's top-seed, improves to 18-2 overall, tying last season's program record for the most wins in a season. The Blue receive the conference's automatic bit to the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship and will will find out its first round opponent at 10:30 PM tonight.
Mount Holyoke, the 16th-ranked team in the nation and the tournament's second overall seed, dips to 16-3 overall with today's results. The NEWMAC regular season and tournament runner-up, the Lyons will await word on a possible at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament.
For the second consecutive season, the NEWMAC's top-two teams played to a scoreless tie in regulation before an overtime winner decided the tournament champion. Mount Holyoke opened the contest with a wave of pressure, drawing three penalty corner opportunities in the opening five minutes of play.
The Lyons got their best opportunity to score just past nine minutes in the first when an errant turnover in front of the Wellesley cage gave Charlotte Wagner a point blank opportunity on Blue goaltender Lucy Hurlock. Luckily for Hurlock and the Wellesley defense, Wagner's shot skimmed wide to the right and the game remained scoreless. Hurlock made both of her two saves in the opening ten minutes of play.
Next it was Wellesley's turn to test Mount Holyoke starter Liz DiCesare, as the Blue drew three penalty corner opportunities in a span of five minutes. However, the Mount Holyoke goaltender turned away a pair of Wellesley attempts and saw a shot from Blue senior Nathalie Gruet sail just wide of an open cage.
With the Blue awarded a penalty corner at 24:49, Courtney Peterson inserted the ball to Lolly Lukens who cranked an attempt to the right of the cage. The ball found Gruet's stick but the Wellesley senior was unable to tuck home her twenty-first goal of the season as it flew harmlessly past DiCesare and out of play.
DiCesare, who was nothing short of spectacular for the Lyons, made seven saves in the contest as the Blue held a 12-4 advantage in shots and a 12-5 advantage in penalty corner opportunities.
Mount Holyoke drove possession in the early stages of the second half, earning what would turn out to be the their final penalty corner opportunity at 41:22. However, the Wellesley defense, led by tournament Most Outstanding Player Meghan Peterson, again turned aside the Lyons in the opening minutes of the half.
Following the first 15 minutes of the second, DiCesare was the story as the Mount Holyoke sophomore made five saves to help the game remain scoreless. The Blue earned four penalty corners, including one with just under three minutes to play in regulation but were unable to solve DiCesare and the Mount Holyoke defense before overtime.
In overtime, the Blue drew their fifth penalty corner opportunity of the period just over seven minutes in to set up the winning strike. Flesch inserted the ball to Nikki Sharkin at the top of the arc. Sharkin then took a big swing, directing a strike toward Anissa Sridhar that deflected off the junior's stick and across the open goal mouth to Flesch. Flesch then bounced the ball off the back of the cage for the game-winner.
Story courtesy of Miles Roberts, Wellesley Sports Information Director.