Field hockey picks up NCAA berth despite losses

Despite a 2-0 loss to Bowdoin College in the NESCAC tournament finals last Saturday, the Williams Field Hockey team earned an at-large bid to the 18-team NCAA Division III Championships starting Nov. 4 at Rowan University. Williams (14-3) will face Ithaca College (10-6) at 11a.m. in the opening round.

“We have had a good season so far, and we are excited about playing in the tournament,” stated goalie Monelle Quevillon ’03. “Now we are focused on Ithaca and, hopefully, advancing as far as we can.”

Williams had hoped to earn the automatic NCAA bid that was awarded to the winner of last Saturday’s contest against Bowdoin.

The Polar Bears, however, displayed the form that made them the conference tournament’s top seed, and avenged their 2-0 loss to the Ephs on Sept. 16. The win helped Bowdoin (15-1) earn the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament’s New England bracket.

Williams failed to take advantage of several scoring opportunities early in the first half while applying constant pressure to the Bowdoin side of the field. The Polar Bears’ potent offense eventually warmed up, and sophomore Leah McClure fed junior Kristy Perine for the game’s first goal with 7:24 remaining in the first half.

Bowdoin carried the momentum into the second half, and Perine netted her second score of the game with 16:43 left to play. Freshman goalie Jill McDonald stopped all five Eph shots, while Monelle Quevillon ’03 had four saves for Williams.

“I thought we dominated the first half, but once they scored they started playing with a lot of confidence,” commented Williams head coach Alix Rorke. “It is tough to beat a good team like that twice in one year.”

Williams, which began the season with ten consecutive victories, rose as high as No. 9 in the national polls before struggling a bit at the end of the season. A 1-0 overtime loss to Amherst on Oct. 14 ended the winning streak, and Tufts sent the Ephs into the postseason on a losing note with a 2-1 double overtime triumph on Oct. 21.

In spite of those two tough losses, Williams was ranked tenth nationally and third in the conference going into the NESCAC tournament, behind Bowdoin and Amherst. The Ephs were impressive throughout the tournament, defeating Connecticut College 4-1 in the first round, and then shutting down Amherst in a 1-0 victory in the semifinals.

Williams dominated the Lord Jeffs early on, pressuring and penetrating deep into Amherst territory. However, the contest remained scoreless until Stephanie Noering ’03 took the ball just outside the circle, turned, and ripped a shot past Amherst goalie Beth Sensing. Williams continued to assault the Lord Jeffs’ goalie, tallying twelve shots on goal, but were unable to register an insurance score.

However, the Eph defense was outstanding, repeatedly turning away Amherst attacks. Williams allowed just three shots on goal for the entire game, and Quevillion stopped the few attempts that were on target for her ninth shutout of the season.

Despite the loss, Amherst will join Williams and Bowdoin as NESCAC representatives in the NCAA tournament, and will host Cortland State in the opening round. This is the last academic year that NESCAC teams will be able to accept at-large bids to NCAA tournaments.

On Oct. 24, the Ephs opened the NESCAC tournament with a 4-1 victory over Conn. College. The Camels took the early lead , bu the goal seemed to motivate the Ephs.

Just over five minutes later, Williams responded with a goal by Ann Schorling ’03, assisted by Lyssa Castonguay ‘01, at 23:39. Tori Scott ’04 then gave the Ephs the lead for good, scoring off of a pass from Heather Kallus ’03 with 8:31 left in the first half. Senior co-captain Allison Stepp and Stephanie Noering ’03 made sure the lead held up.