BIDDEFORD, Maine – The New England University field hockey team defeated Simmons College, 2-0, this evening in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on the Big Blue Turf in Biddeford, Maine.
The Sharks finish their season with a 13-6 record, while the Nor'easters improve to 17-6 and advance to the second round for a road match at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. on November 15 at 11:00 a.m. The win marks the first victory for UNE in NCAA Tournament play.
Despite owning a 10-7 advantage on penalty corners, the Nor'easters prevented Simmons from turning its opportunities into shots as UNE owned a 16-4 shot margin.
The Sharks were shutout for just the second time all season and for the first time since a 1-0 overtime loss to Worcester Polytechnic Institute on September 6.
University of New England cracked the scoring column first when sophomore forward Brooke Marshall's (Bow, N.H.) shot came off the right post and onto the stick of senior forward Erin Bibber (Charlton, Mass.) for a one-timer at the 15:33 mark for her team-high 17th goal of the season. It was the lone score of the first half as both teams came off at the intermission with the home team holding a 1-0 edge.
The Nor'easters added an insurance goal in the second stanza with 18:05 remaining in the period. First year forward Vonde Saunders (Center Conway, N.H.) was denied on a pair of shots by Simmons' sophomore keeper Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.), but UNE was awarded a penalty stroke when the ball got caught under the visitors' goalie. Senior back Beth Sullivan (Cumberland, R.I.) flipped a shot into the upper left corner of the cage for her ninth tally of the year to give the Nor'easters a 2-0 margin.
Sophomore midfielder Robin Powell (Richmond, Vt.) and first year forward Julie Saltamartini (East Hampstead, N.H.) each registered a shot for Simmons, while second-year forward Jenna Gagnon (Waterville, Maine) fired two shots to lead the team.
Rastello finished the match with a season-high 13 saves for the Sharks, while sophomore goalie Holly Smith (Peabody, Mass.) turned away both shots she faced to earn the victory for University of New England.