WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - After playing to a scoreless first half, Virginia Commonwealth scored three second-half goals to edge the Monmouth University field hockey team, 3-2, Sunday afternoon on So Sweet A Cat Field. The Hawks, who received goals from sophomore Amanda Schoenfeld (West Sayville, N.Y./Connetquot) and senior Michelle Pieczynski (Doylestown, Pa./Central Buck West), fall to 0-6 on the year, while the Rams improve to 4-0.
The Hawks controlled the first half of play, registering five shots on goal including peppering VCU's goalkeeper Megan Botteri on three straight plays. Schoenfeld, graduate Tara Brown (Hatboro, Pa./Archbishop Wood) and Pieczynski each fired shots within a five second span that were all turned away by Botteri. The Rams defense led to offense as a two-on-one ensued in the Hawks' defensive zone, but a diving Nicole Manzino (Monroe Township, N.J./Monroe Township) pushed the ball out of the circle to alleviate the Rams' pressure. The Hawks got another quality chance in the first half as Brown split the defenders down the middle and unloaded a shot towards the left post but a kick save from Botteri allowed the teams to go into the break scoreless.
VCU broke the ice in the 38th minute as Chelsea Hill corralled pass from Haley McBee off a broken penalty corner play and fired it past Monmouth's keeper, Teresa Mathews (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley). The Rams increased their lead just over five minutes later as Emilie Soares tipped in a rebound after McBee's shot rang off the near post.
The Hawks got on the board at the 52-minute mark when junior Trish O'Dwyer (Dublin, Ireland/Rathdown School) sent a feed into the circle where Schoenfeld blasted a one-timer past Botteri to cut the Rams' advantage in half, 2-1.
Nearly five minutes later, Mathews left her cage to play an attacking McBee towards the right post. VCU's forward flicked the ball between Mathew's pads into an empty goal mouth, leaving Kendall Farino alone to knock the ball into the back of the cage to regain a two-goal advantage for the visitors.
The Hawks looked to stage a late rally earning a penalty corner opportunity with 5:27 remaining in regulation. Senior Kimmy Baligian (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central) inserted the corner along the left side to graduate Tara Brown (Hatboro, Pa./Archbishop Wood) who sent a low feed toward the back post. Pieczynski rushed towards the middle and got a stick on the ball, deflecting it inside the near post for her team-leading fifth tally of the season. The Rams kept the ball inside the attacking zone allowing the final five minutes to run out which preserved the one-goal victory.
Botteri turned away eight shots in the win, while Mathews made one save in the loss.
The Hawks outshot the Rams, 14-9, and controlled the penalty corners, 7-5.
Monmouth hits the road this Wednesday, September 12, for a mid-week contest at Delaware. The non-conference match is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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