Saturday, November 15, 2014

#12 University of Albany Field Hockey Takes Down #5 Wake Forest 2-1 for First NCAA Tournament Win All-Time - UAlbany Sports 2014

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports

COLLEGE PARK, Md.- The 2014 University at Albany field hockey squad (19-2) made history yet again on Saturday afternoon, downing No. 5 Wake Forest (14-7) in the NCAA First Round. UAlbany took its first NCAA Tournament win all-time.

“We’re ecstatic,” said head coach Phil Sykes. Like the conference tournament, you want your team to play relaxed and do the thing we work on. It’s crucial to not be overwhelmed. The effort today was just incredible; no one looked phased or overwhelmed and it resulted in a historic win.”

Laura Page ruled the midfield early on, as a Wake turnover gave the junior midfielder space to turn and look up-field. Page slid a pass through the middle to Kelsey Briddell, who ran-on to give UAlbany possession deep in Demon Deacon territory. Briddell nearly had a look on net from Paula Heuser, but the Wake keeper slid in to break up the play.

 Wake Forest earned the game’s first penalty corner with 22 minutes left in the first half. The attempt came up empty for the Demon Deacons.

Both teams continued to press deep into the opponent’s offensive end. Kelly Bonner came up on the right end of a Wake Forest miscue on the back line. The senior dove to tip a pass to the middle of the cage with 20 minutes left, but no one was in front to make a play.

The Great Danes finally got the break they were looking for with 10 minutes left in the first. A green card assessed to Wake Forest put UAlbany up one player for two minutes.

Soon after, the Purple & Gold earned its first penalty corner of the game. With Fiori Van Rijswijk inserting, Page stopped and Heuser faked a shot. The sophomore passed down to Van Rijswijk, who poked the ball across the line to Bottino, and the freshman slammed it home. UAlbany took a 1-0 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Wake came back to score on a corner of its own shortly thereafter, locking the score at one entering halftime.

UAlbany looked to take back the momentum immediately to start the second period. An early Wake yellow card put the Demon Deacons one player down, and set up a penalty corner. Pahila Arnold fired from the left side on a direct insert from Van Rijswijk, but the play resulted in a defensive save for Wake.

After the UAlbany penalty corner, Wake Forest charged up the field on the counterattack to earn a corner.

Maxi Primus made a diving save on the penalty corner to keep the game tied at one. The Great Danes found Amy Nicklin out wide for a counter of their own.

Weaving her way through the Wake Forest back line, Bonner earned another UAlbany penalty corner after knocking the ball off a foot.

Wake lost one defender in the cage on an early release, the Great Danes reset for another corner. Van Rijswijk again found the backdoor tip from Heuser and Page to score in the 45th minute.

But the Great Danes were forced to step up their defense with 25 minutes remaining. Wake Forest’s ACC Tournament MVP Anna Kozniuk streaked down the middle of the field to find teammate Karlee Spirit, who had just entered the game. Spirit fired a shot on an open net, but Jordyn Homyak made a flying a stick save to earn the defensive save.

With the Wake Forest momentum deflated, UAlbany held the ball for the rest of the game to take a 2-1 win.

Fiori Van Rijswijk had three points, including the game-winner to send the Great Danes to the NCAA Second Round. Saturday’s 2-1 victory marks the first all-time win for UAlbany in the NCAA Tournament.

The Purple & Gold downed its second top-10 nationally ranked opponent of the year in No. 5 Wake Forest. The America East Champion Great Danes downed the ACC Champion Demon Deacons, the highest nationally ranked opponent UAlbany has defeated all-time. The Purple & Gold’s winning streak now stands at 13 games.

Phil Sykes’s squad will take on regional host No. 2 Maryland at 2:00 p.m., on Sunday in College Park.

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