W&J Takes On William Smith In First NCAA Tournament Appearance
Washington, Pa. – The Washington & Jefferson College field hockey team will meet William Smith College in the first round of the Division III NCAA Tournament on Wednesday at 4:00 pm.
The Presidents (15-4, 4-3 E8) earned their first ever tournament invitation after winning the Empire 8 Conference Championship on Sunday, a 2-1 victory over Nazareth in Utica, N.Y. W&J avenged a pair of regular season losses in the Empire 8 Tournament, one to the Golden Flyers and to Utica (4-2) in the semifinals. W&J broke through for the title after falling in the previous four Empire 8 championship matches.
No. 4 seed W&J trailed 1-0 at halftime of the title match, but juniors Jennifer Marabella (Sinking Spring, Pa./Holy Name) and Erin Barno (Camp Hill, Pa./Cedar Cliff) both netted goals in a 2:16 span early in the second half to give the Presidents a 2-1 advantage. W&J’s defense thwarted a rally attempt by the Golden Flyers, as it successfully defended four penalty corners in the final 20 minutes. Senior goalkeeper Shelby Colyer (Oxford, Ohio/Talawanda) turned away six shots to earn her sixth victory of the season.
Junior defender Meaghan Thornlow (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) earned the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. She is the leader of a Presidents’ defense that allowed just three goals and 13 shots during the two-game tournament.
W&J upset top-seeded Utica in the Empire 8 semifinals by a score of 4-2. Marabella broke a 2-2 second half tie with her second goal of the game, 3:34 after intermission. Barno added an insurance tally with just less than 20 minutes remaining, as the Presidents downed Utica for the second straight season in the Empire 8 Tournament semifinal round.
W&J is led by fifth-year Head Coach Jomara Coghlan. Coghlan has a 65-29 record with the Presidents, including three 15-win seasons, the highest total in school history. The Presidents have reached the Empire 8 Conference Tournament finals in all five seasons under Coghlan.
Offensively, W&J averaged 3.0 goals per game, the second-highest mark in the conference. The Presidents are one of the top passing teams in the country, averaging 2.56 assists per game, good for 12th in the nation.
The W&J offense is led by the high-scoring duo of Barno and Marabella. Marabella, a First-Team All-Empire 8 performer, became W&J’s all-time leading scorer on Sunday, passing Beth Kelley with 101 career points. Marabella is also the all-time leading goal scorer with 48 career tallies. She led the team and tied for the conference lead with 15 goals and added two assists for 32 points. Barno led the Empire 8 with 35 total points and tied for first with 15 goals. She was also named to the Empire 8 First Team and recorded nine assists.
Senior Hannah Lott (Aspers, Pa./Biglersville) and junior Amanda Pflumm (Shoreham, N.Y./Shoreham Wading River) tied for the team lead with 10 assists, the second-highest total in the conference. Lott was named Second Team All-Empire 8, while scoring three goals in 18 games. Pflumm earned Empire 8 honorable-mention laurels and finished third on the team with eight goals and 26 total points. Junior Arielle King (Hershey, Pa./Hershey) and sophomore Victoria Patrick (State College, Pa./State College Area) also scored in double figures. King recorded 17 points (5G, 7A), while Patrick tallied five goals and five assists for 15 points. Patrick is the Presidents’ point figure on penalty corners.
W&J’s defense pitched five shutouts during the season and is led by Thornlow, a Second Team All-Empire 8 performer. Thornlow made two defensive saves in 18 games and added a game-winning penalty stroke against Dickinson. The Presidents led the Empire 8 with a 1.43 goals against average, in addition to leading the conference in shutouts.
Senior Shelby Colyer (Oxford, Ohio/Talawanda) and sophomore Harley Straub (Richfield, Pa./East Juniata) have both seen action in goal this season. Straub took over for Colyer, who was injured during the preseason, and posted an 8-2 record in 10 games. She turned away 47 shots, while posting a 1.47 goals against average. Colyer returned in October and grabbed six victories in the final nine contests. She is second in school history with 209 career saves, including 50 this year.
The Presidents and the Herons have never met in field hockey. The teams did face four common opponents this season, with three being Empire 8 foes. William Smith posted a perfect 4-0 record against Nazareth (3-1, Sept. 3), Elmira (7-0, Sept. 7), Ithaca (2-1, Sept. 14) and SUNY-Geneseo (5-1, Sept. 28), while W&J held a 3-2 record against those same opponents (1-1 NAZ, 1-0 IC, 1-0 EC, 0-1 GEN).
William Smith is ranked No. 13 in the latest NFHCA rankings and earned one of five at-large bid to the tournament. Under 24th-year head coach Sally Scatton, the Herons finished second in the Liberty League with a 5-1 conference record and 15-4 overall mark. The team fell to Skidmore in the Liberty League Championship match, its first title game appearance since 2007.
The Herons boast six All-Conference performers, led by senior forward Kirsten Hamilton, who earned the honor for the third-straight time. Hamilton finished second on the team with nine goals and third with 23 points. Taylor Cappello topped the team in scoring with 15 goals and three assists for 33 points. Annie Kietzman was the Herons’ leader with 11 assists, the second-highest mark in the Liberty League.
William Smith posted six shutouts and allowed just 20 goals in 19 games. First-Team Conference honoree Melanie O’Connor leads the Herons’ defense. In addition to her defensive duties, O’Connor was William Smith’s fourth-leading scorer with five goals and six assists for 16 points. Goalkeeper Taryn Little started 15 games in net, earning 12 victories. She allowed just 1.03 goals per game while stopping 57 shots.
Wednesday’s game will be played McCooey Field on the campus of William Smith in Geneva, N.Y., at 4:00 pm. Ticket prices have been set at $5.00 for general admission and $3.00 for students, senior citizens, military personnel, and children 3-12. The winner of Wednesday’s game plays at The College of New Jersey Saturday (time TBA). TCNJ, located in Ewing, N.J., is the No. 4 team in the latest NFHCA Top 25 poll and the tournament’s No. 3 overall seed.