Christopher Newport ties program record with 15th consecutive victory
BRIDGEWATER, Va. -- In a well-balanced effort, which included four different goal scorers and the defense's eighth shutout of the season, No. 10 Christopher Newport picked up its 15th consecutive victory with a 5-0 win against Bridgewater (Va.) on Sunday afternoon at the Jopson Athletic Complex.
Shelby Judkins posted a pair of goals for the Captains, while Kelsey Clark, Belle Tunstall and Sarah Smith each added one apiece. Tunstall also came through with her team-leading 10th assist of the year. She is now the second player in program history with double-digit assists in back-to-back seasons after posting 11 last year.
The victory moves Christopher Newport to 15-0 on the season and extends CNU's winning streak, which is now tied for the longest in program history. The 2007 and '12 squads also ripped off 15-game rolls.
From the outset, the Captains set the tempo and dominated possession against Bridgewater (10-4). Five minutes into the game, Clark grabbed control of the ball near midfield and moved toward the Eagle end. After Tunstall took over, she stormed into the zone and worked her way through a slew of defenders before smacking an off-balance shot toward the cage. Although Jessica Balsano made an initial save, the roller squirted back to Clark, who drilled the rebound past the goalie to give CNU an immediate 1-0 lead.
Continuing to pressure the Bridgewater defense, the Captains came up empty handed during their next run before striking again six minutes later. After earning a penalty corner, Tunstall sent in a nice feed to the top of the circle on the near side of the field. Although the Bridgewater defense momentarily clamped down on the attempt, CNU kept the ball in the zone. Judkins soon corralled it near the far side post and flicked a dart to the back of the cage for a 2-0 advantage at 11:44.
Hoping for a little more breathing room, Christopher Newport unloaded on the Eagles. During a 10-minute run, the Captains ripped off seven on-target shots, but Balsano stopped every one. Meghan Sullivan had a nice individual run, blasting a rope before sending a solid centering feed across the offensive zone that just missed a stick.
Although the offense continued to prod, the defense did its job as well. Rarely letting Bridgewater even remotely close to the CNU side, the Captains built a wall at midfield. Alexa Hendrickson anchored the near side and stymied several surges, while Jordan Snider, Marcy Hoath, and Marlene Lichty equaled that effort and slammed the door on almost every other potential Eagle run.
Despite CNU's relentless defensive effort, the hosts were able to orchestrate one sustained rally that resulted in a penalty corner. Near the end of the first half, the Eagles found an opening and pumped their first shot, but Bailey Lien was unfazed and made a solid stop to keep Bridgewater scoreless entering the second half.
Following the break, the Captains wasted little time before striking again. Immediately after halftime, Tunstall went screaming up the field and eventually settled near the back line. With some room to work, she found the perfect angle and drilled a rocket that scooted past Balsano just 21 seconds into the half.
Trailing 3-0, Bridgewater put together a solid offensive run, which resulted in three penalty corners and a pair of shots during a two-minute spurt. Although untested for most of the game, Christopher Newport's back line defense held up against the assault. Judkins was especially strong, swooping in on the second corner to clear the ball before the Eagles could even attempt a shot.
Fittingly, after a nice defensive stand, Judkins did more damage on the offensive end. With abbout 20 minutes remaining in regulation, the Captains showed great ball movement following a penalty corner. Tunstall inserted the roller with a nice pass to the top of the circle. Later, after another solid feed, Hilary St. Mary dished to Judkins, who hammered home her second goal of the contest to extend Christopher Newport's lead to 4-0.
Still on the attack, CNU closed out the scoring less than nine minutes later. Following another flurry of shots that kept Bridgewater on its heels, Tunstall took the ball near the front of the cage. She quickly fed it over to Smith, who cleaned up along the far post with her first career goal to cap off the scoring and help wrap up the 5-0 victory.
Overall, CNU held a 29-4 lead in shots and a 13-4 edge in penalty corners. Lien finished with two saves for the Captains, while Balsano had a season-high 16 stops for the Eagles.