Field hockey falls short in Championship game

By ESTHER HONG | November 9, 2017

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HOPKINSSPORTS.COM Junior defender Grace Hillman earned the award for Defender of the Year.

After finishing the regular season atop the Centennial Conference, the Hopkins women’s field hockey team hosted the Centennial Conference Tournament this past weekend for the first time since 2000.

However, after two close games, the top-seeded Blue Jays were not able to take home the Championship trophy this past Sunday.

In the first round of the Conference Tournament, the Blue Jays topped the fifth-seeded Haverford Fords, who won the Tournament play-in game earlier that week.

The Jays defeated the Fords in overtime by a final score of 2-1. Despite a hard-fought semifinal victory, the Jays were not able to continue their momentum into the finals, falling short to the 13th-ranked Franklin & Marshall Diplomats.

After a memorable win against the nationally-ranked Diplomats the previous week, in which the Blue Jays won 2-1 by scoring in the last 59 seconds of play, Sunday’s game would be reversed, as the Jays fell to the Diplomats in the final round of the Centennial Tournament by a score of 2-1.

“I think we fought really hard in all the games we played this weekend,” sophomore goalie Jodie Baris said. “We had such an incredible season, so we all feel really proud of ourselves and of each other.”

In their semifinal game, the Jays quickly fell behind after the Fords successfully converted a penalty corner into a goal. Haverford senior Stephanie Terrell put the ball in play, leading to junior teammate Alissa Valentine’s low shot from 14 yards out.

With just under 10 minutes of play left in the game, Haverford almost increased their lead to 2-0 when the Fords’ midfielder Paige Carson put herself in a one-on-one situation against Baris. However, Baris was able to make the crucial save, shifting the momentum of the game.

“My favorite moment was from the game against Haverford, when we scored on a corner, and there was just this palpable shift when everyone went from thinking ‘we have to stay in it’ to ‘we’re going to win this.’ And then we did,” Baris said.

The Blue Jays came out fighting in the final minutes of play, and with just under four minutes in the last half, senior forward Clare Kavanagh put in a corner, which was nabbed by sophomore midfielder Katie McErlean, who took the shot and tied the game up at one.

The score remained locked in the final minutes of regulation, and the two teams headed into sudden-death overtime. It took just 95 seconds for the Blue Jays to score the game-winning goal.

McErlean once again found the ball after a corner shot and passed it to senior defender Francesca Cali. Cali fired towards the net, and the ball was lifted over the Fords’ goalkeeper by senior forward Morgan Pothast, securing the Jays’ spot in the finals.

After Friday’s win, the Blue Jays had Saturday to rest before heading into the championship game on Sunday morning. The game marks the Jays’ first appearance in a Centennial Conference championship game since 2009.

“It was really amazing to host the Tournament this year. We worked so hard every practice and put everything into the team, and it paid off,” Baris said. “We went farther than anyone could have imagined, and we represented our school with a lot of pride and dignity.”

Unfortunately, after the arduous game against the Fords, the day of recovery did not help the Jays in the finals.

The Diplomats earned a penalty stroke five minutes into the game and easily converted the shot for a quick 1-0 lead over the Jays.

About 10 minutes later, Diplomats forward Lily Mynott dribbled the ball down to the Blue Jay goal and fired a low shot, establishing a 2-0 lead.

Hopkins finally found the back of the net with under three minutes left in the first half. McErlean aggressively fired to the circle and Kavanagh redirected the ball to junior midfielder Claire Fox, who tapped the ball into the goal.

Despite a hard-fought second half, which saw three different shots on goal by the Jays, they were unable to capitalize.

The Diplomats won the game, taking home the Centennial Conference Championship title and receiving an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Unfortunately, Hopkins did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, so the Jays’ 2017 season has come to an end.

“We need to keep up the work ethic and dedication we had this year, but more importantly, we need to keep building our confidence in ourselves and our ability as a team,” Baris said. “Coach Wells showed us how successful we can be, and now we just want more.”

Despite the tough, season-ending loss, the Blue Jays went out fighting and even earned two major Conference honors in the process.

Junior defender Grace Hillman was named the Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and head coach Jane Wells was named the Centennial Conference Coach of the Year.

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