Springfield field hockey used a four goal first half to defeat the Clark Cougars in a very important NEWMAC conference matchup at Stagg Field Tuesday evening. Senior leaders Ann Mahoney and Maggie Kennedy both had huge games. Mahoney had one goal and two assists and Kennedy had two goals coming off the bench.
Although Kennedy has statistically carried the team, she has not started in a third of the team’s games this year. In the games she does not start, she usually comes off the bench early in the first half. While this is somewhat unorthodox, head coach Melissa Sharpe believes Kennedy has had some of her best games when she comes off the bench.
Mahoney got the Pride on the board in the first seven minutes of the game. Making her way into the middle of the arch, she saw a gap of open space to fire a shot that was initially stopped by Clark goalie Dani Michaud. However, Michaud did not get enough of it, as the ball rolled into the goal to give the Pride a 1-0 lead.
“Morgan [Bronk] hit me with a really nice pass and I saw a little space, so I tried to dribble and took a shot,” said Mahoney.
About midway through the first half, Springfield added another goal from Amanda Nusbaum. Coming off a penalty corner, Mahoney received the ball at the top of the arch. She hit a diagonal pass to her right to Belle Copponi. Copponi then hit a cross that made its way through the defense. Nusbaum was waiting at the other side of the goal, and she hit the ball into the open cage to give Springfield a 2-0 lead.
Springfield kept creating chance after chance and cashed in for two more goals before the first half ended.
Mahoney setup Kennedy with a great pass and Kennedy finished for her 14th goal of the year. The last goal of the half would come when Dani Sweet slotted a pass across the middle of the goal that was deflected at first, but was scooped up by Kennedy and she finished it for her 15th goal of the year.
Clark did not get any chances at goal in the first half thanks to Springfield’s stellar defensive play. The Pride held the Cougars to just three shots, none of them on goal. The second half, however, is when they started to ease up a bit.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Clark started getting some solid looks at the goal. Olivia Barksdale laced a shot from the top of the arch that was deflected into the air by freshman Tirzah McMillan. Springfield goalie Emmalie Drake batted the ball down and it landed right into the stick of Mikayla Pantano. Pantano would have scored if her shot had not been stopped by freshman Morgan Bronk.
After this, Sharpe made some substitutions, taking McMillan, Kennedy, and Copponi out of the game with 15 minutes to go. This is when Clark started taking advantage of their opportunities. Olivia Barksdale slid across the turf as she made a pass to Cheyanne Zappala. She dribbled into the arch, executed an impressive move past a Springfield defender, and found the back of the net to cut the lead to 4-1.
The next Clark goal came off a penalty corner. Anna Joyce received the ball at the top of the arch and hit a shot that was stopped, but not stopped enough by Drake. The goal brought the Pride’s lead down to 4-2.
After this, Springfield was able to stave off all other opportunities and hold on for the win.
Sharpe was not pleased with the defense towards the end of the game, but said, “a win is a win.”
Next up for Springfield is a non-conference matchup this Thursday against Johnson & Wales. Springfield will look to improve to 10-6 as they travel to Rhode Island.