UR Field Hockey emerged with a hard-fought, 1–0 victory last Friday over rival Skidmore College in a battle between teams ranked in the top 20 of Division III.
With the win, the team clinched first place in the Liberty League standings and thus the top seed in the league tournament.
The no. 19 ‘Jackets (13–3) and the no. 17 Thoroughbreds (12–5) both entered the game at 5–0 in Liberty League play. Play was intense throughout regulation. Rochester, as usual, had a strong edge in shots, at 30–8, and had an 11–6 edge in shots on goal.
But Skidmore’s interior defense interfered with shots in the circle and was able to rely on goalkeeper Elizabeth Coughlin when necessary.
Rochester’s defense was just as stout. Senior goalkeeper Gabrielle Cantley stopped all six shots she faced, including two major saves near the end of the second half, when she kicked out a shot from the center of the circle.
Later, a Skidmore player tried to slide the ball under Cantley, but she pushed it away in the face of two attackers. The defense also defused five penalty corners from Skidmore, a team that is quite dangerous in those situations.
The game went to a shootout. Skidmore scored in the first round, but so did sophomore attacker Maya Haigis. In the second round, both teams failed to score, with senior attacker Olivia Denny failing for Rochester.
In the next round, both teams scored again — sophomore midfielder Colleen Maillie knotted the score at two. In the fourth, neither team scored, as junior attacker Nancy Bansbach was stopped.
In the fifth and final round, Skidmore’s shot went wide left of the goal. Junior defender Courtney Dunham then had the opportunity for Rochester. She was blocked by Coughlin, but shootout opportunities last eight seconds, and Dunham pushed the ball past the line before the time expired, securing the tiebreaker and a crucial Yellowjacket victory.
“We had a thrilling win over Skidmore for the number one spot and it was a game full of passion and grit,” Bansbach said. “I’ve never felt so much energy running through Fauver during any sporting event before. We pushed until the very end and never gave up on a single play.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Kate Kujawa added: “Skidmore is one of our biggest rivals so it was awesome to beat them on our home turf in shootouts. Once Courtney scored that last goal we all rushed at her and [Cantley] and just dog piled onto them […] it’s one of those moments I’ll never forget.”
On Sunday, the ‘Jackets traveled to St. Lawrence University to attempt to cap off an undefeated conference season. With their 6–2 win over the Saints (5–10), the team achieved that undefeated distinction for the first time in school history.
The Saints actually scored first, in the seventh minute. Bansbach tied the score six minutes later, when Bansbach scored off an assist from Maillie. Haigis gave Rochester the lead in the 22nd minute on a line drive shot, with Denny assisting.
Near the end of the first half, a Haigis shot was stopped, but the St. Lawrence goalkeeper used a hand to stop it, and the ‘Jackets got a penalty opportunity. Dunham capitalized to double the lead going into the second half.
Two minutes into the half, Maillie deposited another penalty shot. The Saints threatened at times, but senior goalkeeper Kiran Sundaram, who replaced Cantley for the half, collected six saves.
Denny scored from the edge of the circle in the 58th minute, and Dickerson scored her 19th goal of the year after St. Lawrence got its second of the game.
With the regular season complete, the team’s outlook is now towards the playoffs, which start with the UAA tournament.
“It feels full circle because we are in the same Liberty League position we were my freshman year, hosting William Smith at Fauver in semis,” said Dickerson. “Being a senior, it’s fun to just take a moment and see how far everyone has improved since when we first came to campus and how much more talent has joined us since. I can’t wait to go into postseason play and see what we can do.”