Posted by Katie Peverada
Heading into the weekend, Skidmore's field hockey team knew that a regular season title was within reach if they won both games. However, with both games also coming against nationally ranked opponents in the University of Rochester and William Smith College, the Thoroughbreds also knew they would have to play tough.
The field hockey team came into the first game on Friday at 11-3 overall and 3-1 in Liberty League play and ranked an impressive 17th in the nation, but they were facing off against the 14th-ranked, and Liberty League foe, University of Rochester Yellow Jackets. Skidmore, though, started the game strong, taking an early 2-0 lead.
Kelly Blackhurst '14 got Skidmore on the board first in the third minute with her 20th goal of the season. Blackhurst intercepted a Rochester clearing attempt at the top of the circle and fired it past Rochester's Madison Wagner. Less than two minutes later, Sam Skott '15 made it 2-0 when she received a pass from Sam Revera '15 near the left post and calmly tapped it in.
Rochester cut the lead to 2-1 when they scored off of a penalty corner, but the Thoroughbreds again put up two goals in a row to take control.
Skott and Blackhurst both scored again in the 17th minute and 26th minute, respectively. Skott jammed home the ball amid traffic in the front of the net, this time off of a pass from Dani DeGregory '16. Blackhurst again scored from the top of the circle, this time taking the ball off of a penalty corner, dribbling around a Rochester defender on the left wing and slotting it home to make it 4-1.
Rochester, though, showed why they are also one of the top teams in the country and would not go down easily. The Yellow Jackets quietly added a goal with 15 seconds remaining in the first half, but that was enough to give them momentum heading into the second. Rochester was able to score a goal off of a redirection seven minutes in to the second half to make it 4-3.
However, the last 27 minutes was all about defense with neither team able to get score, let alone get off many shots. Skidmore held Rochester to just one more shot the rest of the way, and none of Skidmore's five shots were able to find the back of the net. Haley McDougall '15 finished with two saves while Wagner and Tara Lamberti combined for 10 saves.
The win put the Thoroughbreds at 4-1 in Liberty League play heading into last Saturday's game against William Smith and gave them a chance to earn the #1 seed with a victory.
William Smith came into the game ranked 7th in the nation and 4-1 in League play, but Skidmore knew that a victory would seal home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
DeGregory got things started for Skidmore with two goals in the first 30 minutes. DeGregory received a pass from Blackhurst off of a corner and was able to slide it home past William Smith's Amy Feda. DeGregory continued to maintain a strong net presence when she was able to tip the ball in, with the assist going to Revera.
William Smith was able to add a goal off of a deflection with 25 seconds left in the half to make it 2-1, but Jenn Hanks '16 scored the game winner at 63:11. Melanie Webb '15 and Becca Halter '17 earned the assists on Hanks' goal which came off a penalty corner. Earlier in the game, Hanks had saved a goal with a nice defensive save.
Later in the game, with the score 3-2, William Smith pressured Skidmore with an extra attacker for the last minute and a half. But McDougall and the Skidmore defense continued their strong play to preserve the win. McDougall, who made a game-preserving save as time expired, finished the game with eight saves. Feda had five saves for William Smith.
The Thoroughbreds hosts Stevens Tech at 2 p.m. on Nov. 2 in what will be the senior game and the final regular season game. Skidmore will then host Vassar College on Nov. 6 in the semifinal of the Liberty League playoffs.