By Jimmy Cassidy
The field hockey team at the Catholic University of America began their defense of their Landmark Conference championship in strong fashion on Saturday, September 24th, with a 4-1 victory over the River Hawks of Susquehanna University. Two goals in each half were enough for the 2015 conference champions and they move to 5-2 on the year. The lone goal for Susquehanna came with just over a minute left to play in the game, and the River Hawks’ overall record is now also 5-2.
The Cardinals, who are currently ranked 20th in the nation, took control of the game early and kept consistent possession of the ball. Not even five minutes had come off of the clock when CUA converted an offensive chance into a goal. Catholic was awarded 15 penalty corners during the game, and their second one turned into a 1-0 lead. Junior Kelly Cousoulis had the assist to freshman Marykate McCracken. McCracken, who has started in each of the team’s seven games this season, scored the second goal of her young career.
Then in the 17th minute of action, junior Rachel Day was threatening on goal when she was fouled in the penalty area by a Susquehanna player. She was awarded a penalty stroke opportunity, the team’s first chance at one this year, and she buried it. Day continues to be the leader of the team as she leads the Cards with 8 goals and 18 overall points. Day, whose 18 points leads the entire conference, was recently named Offensive Player of the Week for the Landmark for her past few performances.
Catholic outshot the River Hawks 12-4 in the first 35 minutes of action, and held a solid 2-0 lead at the end of the first half.
The Day show continued as she was involved the first goal of the second half just five minutes in. She drove near the end line to one side of the goal and passed the ball back in front of the cage. Fellow junior Rachel Baca was there to receive the pass and put a shot past the keeper. Catholic went up 3-0.
The final goal for the home side came seven minutes later when junior Marisa Martinelli got the assist for a Hannah Schied goal. The sophomore forward felt pressure from a defender but got a shot off as she dove that beat the goalkeeper.
The 4-0 lead with more than twenty minutes to play was a comfortable one for Catholic, and a win was well in sight. All-Landmark senior goalkeeper Analisa Scott played one half without giving up a goal and making two saves. A goal from Susquehanna came with less than two minutes left in the contest, off of a deflection after a long shot. The goal was a tough break for junior keeper Sophia Hamilton, who played the second 35 minutes of action in the cage. She made two saves on the three shots on goal she faced. The last goal was too little and too late for the River Hawks however, and CUA comfortably won the Landmark matchup by a 4-1 score.
Conference play has started off on the right foot for first year head coach Heidi Lewis. After spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach, Lewis is undoubtedly excited to coach another talented group this fall. The team will again play a very rigorous out of conference schedule and do their best to take care of business in the Landmark. After a postponed game against Mary Washington due to rain, the Cardinals will be back in action on Saturday, October 1st, when they will travel to take on conference foe Juniata at 1 PM.