BOSTON, Mass. - The number one seeded Simmons College field hockey team will host number two seed Saint Joseph's College (Maine) in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday, November 7 at 6:00 p.m. at Jack Barry Field on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Sharks are 13-4 on the season and have won four straight matches and six of their last seven, while finishing the season with a 5-1 record in GNAC play. The Monks enter play with a 13-6 mark and are also 5-1 in league play. Simmons defeated Saint Joseph's, 2-0, in Boston on October 3 in a defensive battle. The Sharks fired five shots, while the Monks managed four shots. Sophomore forward Julie Saltamartini (East Hampstead, N.H.) tallied both goals for Simmons to give it the victory and the head-to-head tie breaker with Saint Joseph's. Junior Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.) turned back two shots to preserve the shutout for the home team.
The Sharks shut out Johnson & Wales University, 3-0, on Wednesday to vault them into the title game. Saltamartini scored a pair of goals and junior forward Jenna Gagnon (Waterville, Maine) scored the final marker of the night in the team's school-record 11th shutout of the year. The Monks punched their ticket to the championship contest with a 3-1 victory over Anna Maria College, who upset Saint Joseph's in last year's semifinal match. First year forwards Kara Kelly (York, Maine) and Michalia Parent (Westborough, Mass.) along with junior midfielder Kelsey Dumond (Lewiston, Maine) each scored for the Monks.
Simmons makes its second straight appearance in the GNAC Championship, following last year's inaugural title match. The Sharks enter this year's championship as the number one seed after taking the crown as the second seed last year. This will be the third championship appearance for Simmons, having also played for the North Atlantic Conference title in 2003. Saint Joseph's is in search of its first conference championship, having appeared in the NAC Final four times.
The defense has certainly been the hallmark for Simmons, leading the nation with 0.65 shutouts per game in 17 matches, while ranking sixth in NCAA Division III with a 0.70 goals against average. The Sharks have also featured a potent offense, averaging 3.35 goals per game to place 21st in the nation and rank 13th among the best in the nation with a 2.63 scoring margin.
Sophomore back Maizy Wagner (Chester County, Pa.) has started all 17 matches after making the move from the midfield to the back line and, along with senior back Alexia Malone Oliver (Bristol, R.I.), has helped to limit opponents to just 5.8 shots per match. Simmons ability to control the field can be directly attributed to its midfield play. Juniors Hailey Bruno-Moulton (South Berwick, Maine), Robin Powell (Richmond, Vt.) and Amy Wilson (Falmouth, Mass.) have served as the team's "belt" and possession has been the trio's strength, keeping the ball in the Sharks' offensive zone, while limiting the opponent's attack. Rastello has also been outstanding, posting a suffocating 0.77 goals against mark to rank 10th in the nation, while owning a .786 save percentage. She has not allowed a goal in her last 238:52 of action, while posting seven shutouts for the year.
Saltamartini is the league-leader with 17 goals to contribute to a 36-point season, which ranks as the second-highest goal and point total in school history. The sophomore is one of six players for Simmons to have double-digit points, which is the highest number of any team in the GNAC. Certainly, the defense has been a significant key to the team's success, but so is their depth and experience. The Sharks have seen 14 different players register a goal this season on a roster that features 19 returners from last year's NCAA Tournament squad. Sophomore forward Sammy Rondeau (Franklin, Mass.) has followed up a stellar rookie year with another solid campaign, standing second on the team with a career-high nine goals and 23 points, while Gagnon follows with 16 points on five goals and a team-high six assists. Junior forward Jillian Mercer (Dartmouth, Mass.) has broken out with six goals this season and first year forward Missy Maiewski (Northampton, Mass.) has tallied five goals to give Simmons another scoring option. Senior Amy Cronin (Georgetown, Mass.) has continued to serve as an outstanding distributor from the midfield with six assists to go with a pair of goals.
Parent and Dumond lead the Monks offense with 26 and 25 points, respectively. Three of Parent's goals have gone for game-winners, while Dumond's total of 11 tops the team. Senior back Meghan Williams (Greenland, N.H.) has been a main distributor for Saint Joseph's, dishing out a team-high seven assists to rank fifth among league leaders in addition to scoring on four of five penalty stroke attempts. Sophomore forward Bailey Cutler (Lisbon Falls, Maine) is the only player on the team to start all 19 contests and has tallied five goals, while senior forward Amanda Celata (Dedham, Mass.) has struck for four goals and added four assists. First year goalie Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine) has been exceptional in her rookie campaign, recording a 1.05 goals against average, while posting four shutouts. She also owns a .758 save mark.