Ursinus Field Hockey Season Comes To An End
Photo Credit: James Wagner
NCAA Division III Field Hockey Semifinals
DUDLEY, Mass. - In all three of the previous NCAA tournament games, it seemed like the ball was bouncing Ursinus' way.
Saturday afternoon in the semifinals against The College of New Jersey, Ursinus was on the opposite side of the bounce.
The Lions (23-2) scored twice in the first half on their way to a 2-0 win over the Bears (19-4) at Vendetti Field on the campus of Nichols College. Ursinus was trying to become the first team since 2007 to advance to the NCAA championship game from the first round. Instead, the Lions handed Ursinus its fourth straight loss in the NCAA semifinals.
"It was obviously a disappointing loss, " said Ursinus head coach Janelle Benner afterwards. "We had come a really long way and had a terrific season. It always kind of stings when you lose."
TCNJ struck first quickly scoring at 9:10 as junior forward Kathleen Notos scored on a breakaway off an assist from senior forward Leigh Mitchell. Ursinus had a chance to answer after the goal, but two shots from Catherine Bitterly were blocked in the 12th minute. Ursinus fired off the next three shots, but, all were saved by Lions senior goalkeeper Shannon Syciarz. Syciarz finished with a game-high 16 saves as Ursinus fired off 24 shots.
The Lions scored on a penalty corner at 31 minutes even, as freshman midfielder Erin Waller scored on an assist by junior defender Camille Passucci who inserted the ball on a penalty corner.
While there was no scoring in the second half, Ursinus' best chance to get on the board came during a three-minute span between the 53rd and 56th minutes. During that three minute flurry, Ursinus put up seven shots and five penalty corners. TCNJ counted with five saves and a defensive save by Passucci.
TCNJ's final defensive save came with 5:43 left when a shot by senior forward Alyssa Thren (Barto, Pa. / Upper Perkiomen) was blocked by senior defender Jessica Persicketti.
TCNJ had 22 penalty corners in the game to Ursinus' 13, while the Lions had a 32-24 advantage on shots. Senior goalkeeper Jill Lukens (Furlong, Pa./Central Bucks East) made 12 saves. Freshman defender Nora Kornfeld (Kingston, Pa./Wyoming Valley West) and sophomore defender Katie McEwen (Plainsboro, N.J./WWPN) each had a defensive save for Ursinus.
While the Bears may have exited in the semifinals, the seniors leave the program with four straight trips to the semifinal round and four straight Centennial Conference titles.
"I think it's a good accomplishment," said Thren afterward. "To make it to the semifinals four-straight years is something they can never take away from you."
"It's a great accomplishment to do this with a great group of people," Lukens added. "It hurts to lose today, but, we can't let it mar the season."