BABSON PARK, Mass. – November 5, 2007 -The Springfield College field hockey team claimed its fourth consecutive New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship on Sunday afternoon, as the fourth-seeded Pride defeated second-seeded Wellesley College, 3-0, in the conference finals at Babson College’s MacDowell Field.
With the win, Springfield, ranked 14th in the nation by the NFHCA and first in the New England East region by the NCAA, earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the straight year.
This morning (Nov. 5), Springfield (19-3) learned that it will be hosting a first-round NCAA Tournament game this Wednesday (Nov. 7) against King's College (Pa.) (15-4) at 5 pm at Stagg Field. The Monarchs enter the tournament after winning its second-consecutive Freedom Conference title this past weekend.
Springfield (19-3) dominated the first half of play, outshooting Wellesley (13-6) by a count of 14-5. However, the Pride managed just one goal in the period thanks to the outstanding goalkeeping of Wellesley junior Emily Hewitt (Alexandria, Va.), who stopped seven of the Pride’s eight attempts on net to keep her team in the game. Hewitt’s only blemish of the opening half came at 18:32, when she made a nice lunging kick save on a shot by Springfield senior Eileen Jenkins (Gorham, Maine) out of a scramble in front. The rebound bounced directly back to Jenkins, who fired it into the back right corner of the cage for the game’s first goal.
Wellesley nearly tied the game at the 24-minute mark when sophomore Callie Lekas (Brewster, Mass.) fired consecutive shots from close range, but Springfield senior goalie Emma Kaplan (Ridgefield, Conn.) successfully saved the first, and the second went just wide. Lekas then provided another great opportunity for the Blue with three minutes left in the period when she hit a rocket from the top of the circle toward the left post. However, the ball skipped just over the stick of first-year Madeline Block (Saratoga, Calif.) and out of bounds as she tried to redirect it on net.
Those would prove to be Wellesley’s two best chances of the contest, as three of their five second-half shots were blocked by the Springfield defense and the other two went wide. Meanwhile, the Pride tacked on two more goals in the final 15 minutes, starting with a goal by junior Jane Kelleher (Chatham, Mass.) at 56:39. On a Springfield penalty corner, senior Brittany Veazie (Dexter, Maine) eventually received the ball next to the cage on the right baseline and hit an immediate centering pass to Kelleher, who flicked a perfect shot over Hewitt’s right leg and off the backboard to make it 2-0. Veazie then finished off the scoring with under four minutes remaining, as she took a pass from junior Allie Eisele (Walton, N.Y.) in front and ripped a shot into the lower right corner from 13 yards out at 66:17.
Hewitt was brilliant in net for Wellesley, finishing with 14 saves. Kaplan made one stop in goal for Springfield while making several nice clearing plays on loose balls in front.