By Jared Prenda
The season came to a close for the Lady Cards’ field hockey team after a crushing overtime defeat at the hands of the Eagles of Juniata in the Landmark Conference Championship this past Saturday. The team peaked at 11th in the nation in the National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association (NFHCA) poll and currently sit at 15th, going 15-2 in the regular season, 7-0 in Landmark play.
The Cards were the first to score in the championship game, with the first goal coming in the 16th minute when sophomore Alexa Guittari redirected a high pass from senior Kerri Shallow for a 1-0 lead.
The rest of the first half remained scoreless, but it only took four minutes into the second for the Eagles to respond when Katie Alexander scored her first of the match.
The game stood at a 1-1 deadlock for remainder of the regulation, and the teams entered overtime in the postseason for the third time in four years. The final goal of the game was the most controversial, when Alexander managed to force a rebound from Catholic goalkeeper Sophia Hamilton just over the line before CUA defenders regained control. Neither team seemed to realize the ball had crossed the line and continued play until the referee blew the whistle ending the game.
Despite the disappointing ending, The Cardinals’ season was a memorable one. Six different members from the team earned individual honors, and head coach Heidi Lewis was selected Landmark Coach of the Year after leading the team to a 15-3 overall record and its highest national ranking in her tenure. They topped three separate nationally ranked teams this season, as well as the perfect 7-0 season in Landmark play.
Senior Kelly Cousoulis earned her second straight Landmark Defensive Player of the Year, and was named to the All-Landmark First team for the second consecutive year. Cousoulis was also selected for the Synapse Sport Third Team All-American team, won Landmark Athlete of the Week honors, and was selected to play in the NFHCA Senior Game.
Senior Rachel Day and junior Lane Adams each earned their 3rd First Team honors this season. Day finished 6th in the conference with 29 points, coming off of 12 goals (41 career) and 6 assists (16 career). She finished her final season tied for the team lead and was 4th in the conference with 4 game- winning scores. Adams has the honor of being the conference’s top two-way player, contributing 8 points on the season on top of her defensive play.
Senior midfielder Marisa Martinelli earned her 3rd straight Second Team nomination, and posted the best season of her career in her final season. She contributed 15 points on the year with 4 goals and 7 assists, which was tied for second in the Landmark Conference for assists. She was also named Landmark Defensive Athletic of the Week twice this season.
Despite her success, Martinelli focused on the triumphs of the team over her own personal achievement.
“I think it was a really exciting year for the team as a whole since we really came together as a unit especially against big opponents,” Martinelli said. “It was definitely exciting to start out the season unranked and make our way to the #11 spot by the end of the season”
Sophomore Katie Anderson and rookie Kelly Cancelmo were also named to the Second Team. Anderson was tied with Day for the team lead of 4 game-winners, and she notched 23 points on the season with 10 goals and 3 assists. Cancelmo had two defensive saves on the season, with a goal and three assists on only seven shots this season.
The team as a whole excelled on the field. Senior Goalie Sophie Hamilton lead the Landmark conference with 5 shutouts, and finished 3rd with a 1.51 goals against average (GAA). The team as a whole only allowed a 1.55 GAA, and only lost to #1 Messiah and then-ranked #6 TCNJ. They also started off the season unranked in the coaches’ polls, and strung together some strong wins over then #18 Mary Washington, #7 Salisbury, and NCAA qualifiers Misericordia to earn their #11 ranking.
Despite the heartbreaking ending to an otherwise outstanding season, the Lady Cards are still holding their heads high. Cousoulis remained proud of the team’s accomplishments.
“As a whole we’ve had some amazing wins throughout the season and although it didn’t end as we wanted, I️ think the seniors and I️ can take comfort in knowing we gave it everything we had and have had some amazing memories these past four years together,” Cousoulis said.