Sunday, November 9, 2008

UAlbany Field Hockey Wins First-Ever America East Conference Championship Title

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Albany, N.Y. – Senior midfielder Michelle Simpson scored the game-winning goal off a penalty corner to lead the University at Albany field hockey team to its first-ever America East Conference Championship in a 2-1 win over New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Turf Field. The Great Danes earned the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

UAlbany (12-9) struck first when junior forward Nicole Savage scored a breakaway goal less than five minutes into play. Savage carried the ball into the left side of the circle and shot the ball over New Hampshire goalkeeper Jenna Lehman into the right corner of the cage. New Hampshire (9-11) was able to tie the game at 1-1 before halftime, as Sarah Craigue took an assist from Whitney Frates and sent the ball past UAlbany’s Ashley Ross in the 29th minute.

The score remained knotted for the majority of the final period, although UAlbany maintained control in the offensive half of the field for most of the half, outshooting the Wildcats, 9-1, in that span. The Great Danes broke the tie at 60:49, as Simpson collected the insertion pass from Jess Lindsey on a penalty corner and smashed the ball past Lehman for the game-winner. UAlbany held the Wildcats attack off for the remainder of the game en route to earning the program’s first postseason conference title.

“I am just at a loss for words right now,” said UAlbany senior defender Michele Polizois, who was a member of the all-tournament team, and scored the team’s lone goal in a 1-0 semifinal triumph over defending champion Boston University. “For the last four years we have just kept getting better and better, and the competition has kept getting better. As a senior, to get to go to the NCAA Tournament, I am just so excited.”

UAlbany outshot New Hampshire 16-7 in the game and held a 9-3 advantage in penalty corners, including 6-0 in the second half. Ross, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, made one save in the cage for the Great Danes, while Lehman stopped four shots between the pipes for New Hampshire.

“I am extremely excited for this day,” added UAlbany head coach Phil Sykes, who was named the conference’s coach of the year. “New Hampshire played very well. Michelle [Simpson] scored a very good goal at a very important time for us. All of our girls played their hearts out for us today.”

The Great Danes, who are making their first NCAA appearance at any divisional level, will learn its first-round opponent on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The 2008 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Selection Announcement will be streamed online through at 8 p.m.

2008 America East Conference Field Hockey Championship

New Hampshire (9-11) 1 0 - 1
UAlbany (12-9) 1 1 - 2

New Hampshire: Scoring – Sarah Craigue (1-0), Whitney Frates (0-1). Goalkeeper – Jenna Lehman (70:00, 2 GA, 4 saves).

UAlbany: Scoring – Nicole Savage (1-0), Michelle Simpson (1-0), Jess Lindsey (0-1). Goalkeper – Ashley Ross (70:00, 1 GA, 1 save).

2008 All-Championship Team
Ashley Ross, UAlbany – Most Outstanding Player
Michele Polizois, UAlbany
Nicole Savage, UAlbany
Michelle Simpson, UAlbany
Sarah Craigue, New Hampshire
Whitney Frates, New Hampshire
Meg Shea, New Hampshire
Brittany Fleck, Maine
Maire Dineen, Maine
Holly Wiles, Boston U.
Lizzie Perreault, Boston U.

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