SPRINGFIELD, Mass., September 2, 2006 – The Springfield College field hockey team opened its season today with a 2-0 victory over cross-town rival Western New England College (WNEC) in a first-round game of the Zenaty Invitational at SC’s Benedum Field.
In the other first round contest, Rensselaer (RPI) defeated Endicott, 3-2.
As a result, SC will meet Rensselaer in the championship game at 1 pm tomorrow (Sunday) at Benedum. In the consolation game at 11 am, WNEC will take on Endicott.
Dotty Potter Zenaty, for whom the tourney is named, is a legendary coaching figure at Springfield College. In a 34-year period before retiring following the 2003 season, she finished with 377 career victories, most ever in New England, and fifth-most nationally. Her SC teams reached the NCAA Division III national semi's in 1999, and the NCAA Championship game in 2000.
The SC-WNEC match was 0-0 for quite a spell, despite the Pride's dominance in shots (21-5) and in short corners (11-6). Neither team was able to score until sophomore Jane Kelleher (Chatham, Mass.) managed to push the ball across the goal line with just 15:26 left in the game. She was assisted by senior midfielder Ashley Burns (Falmouth, Mass.).
A key moment in the game came with approximately three minutes left when SC junior goalkeeper Emma Kaplan (Ridgefield, N.J.) repelled a Golden Bear shot from point-blank range, preventing what looked like the tying goal.
Moments later, with 1:25 left, SC senior forward Christine Gibbins (Eden, N.Y.) capped the scoring with an emphatic laser from about 10 yards out. She received a nice pass from junior forward Brittany Veazie (Dexter, Maine), setting Gibbins up with a straightaway look. Gibbins then simply turned and fired.
Kaplan recorded five saves, plus the shutout, for the Pride. Junior goalkeeper Emilie Donka (White River Junction, Vt.) made 19 saves for WNEC.
In the second game, junior forward Michelle Clemente (Rensselaer, N.Y.) scored the only goal of the first half at 6:43, giving RPI a quick 1-0 lead. But just three minutes into the second half, Gulls senior midfielder Caitlin Murray (Templeton, Mass.) tied it at one-all.
RPI sophomore forward Lisa Pak (Methuen, Mass.) then took advantage of a pair of Endicott miscues by scoring two consecutive goals on penalty strokes in a three and a half minute span. Pak scored her first goal with 16:44 left, her second with 13:16 left.
Endicott did not go away, applying pressure for much of the remainder of the contest. Junior forward Jennifer Rheaume (Blackstone, Mass.) tallied for the Gulls just 1:30 after Pak’s second goal to cut it to 3-2. Endicott outshot RPI, 14-13. Each team had six short corners. For Endicott, senior goalkeeper Erin Curry (Hampstead, N.H.) was credited with 10 saves. For RPI, senior goalkeeper Liz Szewczak (Enfield, Conn.) made 12 saves.
SC, which reached the 'Elite Eight' in NCAA post-season tournament play last year, and RPI both start the season 1-0. WNEC and Endicott fall to 0-1.