LEXINGTON, Va. -- The College of New Jersey earned the program's 11th NCAA Division III National Championship as the Lions posted a 2-0 win against Bowdoin College on Sunday.
TCNJ (23-1) scored twice in the opening half and then relied on its stellar defense to protect that lead and capture the title. The Lions finished the year on a 15-game winning streak and also snapped Bowdoin's impressive 55-game winning streak against non-conference opponents.
The Polar Bears, the 2013 national champion, concluded their season at 19-3.For five of the six seniors on TCNJ, their career ended the same way it began -- raising the national championship trophy. Winning a second title during their careers were Erin Healy, Marissa Pennypacker, Erin Waller, Victoria Martin and Amanda Krause.
"The girls play very well together, and I was hoping we would have the same type of performance we did yesterday," TCNJ head coach Sharon Pfluger said. "I feel that we did that today too, and that's why they are walking off the field happy today. So proud of them."
Healy was named the most outstanding player of the tournament, while Hatch, sophomore goalie Kelly Schlupp and sophomore defender Lexi Smith were named to the all-tournament team.
TCNJ's defense was flawless in the tournament as they did not allow a goal in four games. It was also tested late in the final match, but Schlupp finished with a game-high five saves. The Lions also became the first team in NCAA history to win the title without giving up a goal throughout the tournament.
Early in the championship game, the Lions had the first good scoring chance with Hatch creating that opportunity. She cut around a defender and sent a cross that hit off of a Bowdoin player, forcing goalie Hannah Gartner to kick the ball out of harm's way.
The Polar Bears had their initial scoring threat come on a penalty corner with just over 20 minutes showing on the clock. After a short scramble, Bowdoin's Rachel Kennedy turned a fired a shot that Schlupp denied.
TCNJ opened the scoring with an even 12 minutes left in the first half when Martin carried the ball into the Bowdoin circle and sent a short pass to Healy. She then set up Jaclyn Douglas as the sophomore tucked a low shot just inside the far post.
"It was crucial. We knew we had more control of the ball, and to finally break through and get that point up on the board was huge. It showed us we could get the ball in and we could do it again."
Healy needed only 4:44 to double that lead when she knocked in a feed from Smith.
In the second half, Healy came up with one of several big plays, but it came on the defensive end of the field. The Polar Bears were awarded a penalty corner with 10 minutes left, but Healy raced out from the end line to smother their scoring bid.
That was the first of four corners Bowdoin had in a four-minute span and Smith came up with a save on the final one in that group to protect the shutout.
The Polar Bears had a couple of more corners in the waning moments, but each time the defense held its ground.
TCNJ's other NCAA titles came in 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2011. This was ninth field hockey championship for Coach Pfluger. It also marks the 40th national title in TCNJ athletics program history.
TCNJ field hockey wins 2-0 to claims the national championship! It marks their 11th in program history and 40th title for TCNJ athletics.— TCNJ Athletics (@tcnjathletics) November 23, 2014