Field Hockey wins Liberty League, headed to the big dance

Posted by Skidmore Athletics

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Skidmore College field hockey team won its fourth consecutive Liberty League Championship, defeating William Smith in a thrilling 2-1 game, Saturday afternoon at Thoroughbred Field.

With the win, the 5th-ranked Thoroughbreds improve to 18-1 and clinch a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, earning their fifth consecutive appearance and extending their home winning streak to 29 games. The 13th-ranked Herons fall to 15-4 on the season.

The teams battled back and forth through the first 20 minutes, but Liberty League Player of the Year Kelly Blackhurst '14 broke the scoreless tie at the 24:38 mark. Blackhurst took a pass from Molly Gile '13 in the center of the circle and beat William Smith goalie Taryn Little for her 25th goal of the season.

After holding a 1-0 lead at the half, Skidmore made it a 2-0 game at the 44:05 mark when Lauren Tobias '12 took a pass from Blackhurst and put it home for her 15th of the season. 

The Herons battled back late in the second half and made it a one-goal game at the 58:22 mark. Annie Kietzman picked up a loose ball in front of the goal and found Melanie O'Connor who converted for her fifth goal of the season, making it a 2-1 game.

William Smith continued to put on pressure late in the game and received a penalty corner with no time remaining for a chance to send it to overtime, but Kiersten Hamilton's shot from the top of the circle went wide and the Thoroughbreds hung on for a 2-1 victory.

Tournament MVP Haley McDougall '15 finished with eight saves, including five in the second half for Skidmore. Little allowed two goals on five shots, playing the first 44:05, before Catherine Hare closed out the game, stopping two shots in 25:55.

The Herons held a slight 12-11 advantage in shots and both teams finished with six corners.

Joining McDougall on the All-Tournament team was Blackhurst, Ceilidh MacNeill '13, Caylyn Sullivan '12, Jackie Slocombe '12, Annie Weis '14 and Jess Dankner '12 from Skidmore. For William Smith, O'Connor, Kietzman, Sarah Tompson and Taylor Cappello were selected.

The NCAA Tournament bracket will be released on Monday. It will be the 11th appearance for the Thoroughbreds. 

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Field hockey off to Liberty League Championship