By Tyler Browne
SPRINGFIELD — Despite losing its final regular season game, the Springfield College field hockey team has qualified to play in the NEWMAC Field Hockey Championship Tournament. The Pride have the No. 4 seed in the tournament and will face the No. 5 seed Wellesley at 3:00 PM Tuesday, at Stagg Field, for the quarterfinals.
Babson earned the No. 1 seed, while the sixth seed is held by Mount Holyoke. MIT and WPI hold the two and three seeds, respectively.
The Pride finished the season with a 10-7 overall record, going 4-4 in conference play. Last year, Springfield advances as far as the semifinals, but were defeated by Smith College in double overtime.
Early in the season, Springfield coach Melissa Sharpe was confident that her team would make it to this point.
“I definitely feel we can get to the finals. We were disappointed not to get there last year. That’s an absolute goal for us.”
The Pride started their season hot, and were 6-1 on September 21st. However, they encountered a rough patch at the start of NEWMAC play, and had fallen to 7-6 on October 15th.
Going into the tournament, Springfield has won three of its last four contests — helped in large part by the stellar play of senior forward Taylor Conley.
Conley has scored 14 goals and 30 points in her final season, and recently became the seventh woman in program history to notch 50 career goals.
In order to win, the Pride will need a strong offensive performance. They will also depend on the play of their goalie, Elizabeth Morehouse. Morehouse, a junior, walked on at the start of the season. She has logged 76 saves this season in 981 minutes. All four of the Pride’s shutouts this season has been with Morehouse in the cage.
Springfield also saw a strong season from junior midfielder Taylor Low. In 17 games, she scored five goals and picked up a team leading seven assists, totaling 17 points. Conley credited Low with being a big part of her own success this year.
“I couldn’t do it without Taylor Low, who’s been feeding me great balls to shoot in the goal.”
Wellesley comes into the matchup with a 10-8 overall record, and a 4-4 record in conference play. The Blue started off 4-2, but were 6-8 on October 22nd.
The Blue are led in goals by junior Carson Dennis, with 14. Dennis also leads the Blue in assists with nine.
The Blue won their final game of the season, 3-2, against Wheaton, coming from behind with a game-winning goal by sophomore Caitlin Campbell.
Last season, the Blue finished 7-10, and did not qualify for the NEWMAC tournament. They appeared in the tournament in 2017, when they were defeated in the semifinals by MIT.
The Pride and the Blue have not matched up in the playoffs since 2009. In that meeting, Springfield emerged victorious in a 3-2 overtime game.
This season, Springfield defeated Wellesley 4-1. Conley led the Pride with 2 goals in the victory. This victory gave Springfield the home field advantage for Tuesday’s game. With identical records in the conference, Springfield gained the advantage with the head-to-head tiebreaker.
If the Pride win on Tuesday, they will travel to Babson on Thursday for the semi-finals to face the top-seeded Beavers, who are ranked No. 16 in Div. III based on the latest NFHCA national rankings. The championship game will be held on Saturday.
Springfield’s season has been defined by stretches. It began the season with a hot stretch, cooled off halfway through and now will look to continue the momentum built up from a strong finish to the regular season.
Featured photo courtesy of Helen Lucas