PORTLAND, Maine - The Saint Joseph's College (Maine) field hockey team scored with 6:05 left in the match to hand Simmons College a 1-0 loss and capture the 2016 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship this afternoon at Deering Memorial Stadium in Portland, Maine.
The Sharks fall to 11-8 on the season, while the Monks improve to 13-6 and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship Tournament. The loss ends Simmons' run in the GNAC Championship after winning the crown in 2014 & 2015. Saint Joseph's will await the announcement of its opponent in the upcoming NCAA Tournament First Round.
The Sharks owned a 10-4 shot advantage and held an 8-7 edge on penalty corners.
Monks' sophomore forward Kayla Kelly (York, Maine) fired a shot from in front of the cage that was stopped by Simmons senior keeper Brianna Rastello (Salem, N.H.). First year forward Libby Pomerleau (Limerick, Maine) collected the rebound in the right slot for the putback and her 15th goal of the season with 6:05 left to play in the match. The 1-0 lead held up for the remainder of the match as Saint Joseph's came away as the conference champion.
The Sharks had one last chance for the equalizer when they were awarded with a penalty corner with less than minute to play. Simmons allowed the time to expire before inserting the ball off the corner. The pass went to junior forward Julie Saltamartini (East Hampstead, N.H.), but she was unable to get off a shot as the official signaled the end to the match.
The Sharks looked to get on the board first with 13:36 remaining in the contest when junior forward Sammy Rondeau (Franklin, Mass.) fired a shot from the right side of the arc, but sophomore goalie Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine) was able to turn it away for the Monks and keep the game scoreless. Rondeau finished the match with four shots to lead the Simmons offensive effort.
Simmons controlled possession for most of the second half and held a 6-3 shot margin.
Rastello was credited with a pair of saves for the Sharks. The goal allowed by Rastello ended a streak of three straight shutouts and 293:59 minutes without a goal allowed in GNAC Tournament play. Baker made four stops to record her seventh shutout of the season and 12th of her career.
Senior Robin Powell (Richmond, Vt.), Saltamartini and Rastello were all named to the GNAC All-Tournament Team.
The match was also the last played for nine seniors for Simmons. Powell finishes her career with 72 matches played and two goals and four assists, while Madeline Koufos (Needham, Mass.) closed out her tenure with 61 games played and 17 points (7-3-17). Amy Wilson (Falmouth, Mass.) played her 68th match in a career that saw her tally 16 points on five goals and six assists and make nine defensive saves. Hailey Bruno-Moulton (South Berwick, Maine) played her last match in her home state to finish with 74 games played and 14 career points on five goals and four assists, while Mary Neidhardt (Middlefield, Conn.) finished just shy of 50 points (22-5-49) in 70 career matches. Jillian Mercer (Dartmouth, Mass.) ends her 49-game tenure with seven goals and three assists and Jenna Gagnon (Waterville, Maine) leaves the program with 67 points in 66 games on 23 goals and 21 assists. Rastello suited up for the last time and saw action in 61 matches and 4176:41 minutes, while making 300 saves at a clip of 79.6% and owned a career goals against mark of 1.29 to go with 16 shutouts. Hope McDonald (Hingham, Mass.) can make the claim that she never allowed a goal in 12 matches and 348:14 minutes of action for the Sharks, while making 11 saves.