Dec. 4, 2010

By Mark Bedics

The fourth time was the charm for the Massachusetts-Lowell field hockey team.

After falling in the championship game for each of the past three years, the River Hawks posted a 1-0 victory over Shippensburg on Saturday afternoon at the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival to claim the Division II crown.

"After losing in the championship game the last three years, we poured our hearts out to each other in a team meeting last night," said senior forward Katie Enaire. "We knew we had what it takes to get it done and we did. We are all so excited, and to finish our career like this is just the best feeling in the world."

The game's only goal came at the 22:46 mark of the first half when freshman forward Rachel McCarthy sent in a penalty corner to senior forward Sammy Macy, who found senior midfielder Liz Day open inside the circle. She hammered a line drive past Shippensburg goalie Ciarra Delost into the right hand corner of the cage.

"It was a pass out to Sammy, and she just dished it over to me," said Day. "I had an open shot so I took it and it squeaked in by inches right inside the post."

Shippensburg pressured Massachusetts-Lowell the entire game, forcing River Hawk freshman goalie Melanie Hopkins into making six saves. The Raiders took 13 shots to only three for the River Hawks but were not able to get any past Hopkins, who only allowed eight goals all season.

"We knew going into the game that the difference was going to be being able to take advantage of our opportunities," said Massachusetts-Lowell head coach Shannon Hlebichuk. "We had probably three or four solid opportunities, and we capitalized on one and that was the one what mattered. We did what we set out to do, so we are happy with the win."
For the River Hawks, it marked the end to a 24-0 season. It also adds a second national championship to the Massachusetts-Lowell field hockey trophy case. They also won the 2005 NCAA title.

Shippensburg set a school record with 21 victories on the season against only two losses. In addition, this was the first time the Raiders had ever reached the NCAA championship game after falling in the semifinals in its five previous appearances.

"It was a great game that went back and forth," said Shippensburg head coach Bertie Landes. "We had many opportunities to score ... the ball was right there on the goal line but we couldn't put it in. I was just so proud of our team today. Massachusetts-Lowell is the best team we have played all year."

The all-tournament team consisted of Katie Enair, Liz Day, Sammy Macy and Melanie Hopkins from Massachusetts-Lowell; Kristina Taylor, Bre White and Taylor Jones from Shippensburg; Amanda Riley and Betsy Renn from Bloomsburg; and Lindsey Pinkham and Courtney Foley from Stonehill.