MERION STATION, Pa. – The sun finally broke through at the start of the second half on Saturday.
So did the Hawk offense.
Two second-half goals led the 21st-ranked Saint Joseph’s field hockey team past eighth-ranked Delaware, 2-1, in front of an electric crowd at Ellen Ryan Field. The win is the first for the Hawks over a top-10 team since 2009, and marks the highest-ranked team the Hawks have beaten since taking down #5 James Madison on this date in 1995.
“Delaware is an outstanding program,” head coach Lynn Farquhar said. “They came out in the first half and their speed, transition hockey, and passion to go forward so quickly was something we had to adjust to and to be honest, was something we hadn’t faced yet this season. It took us a while to snap back into it and realize our strength was in playing our own style of hockey, and once we did that, we created even more opportunities.”
On what started as a cool and dreary day, Delaware (9-4) held the early advantage in shots and possession before eventually turning it into an edge on the scoreboard. Greta Nauck put the defending national champions on the board 11 minutes into the game, picking up a ball in the circle and slotting it home for her 12th goal of the season.
The Blue Hens kept up the pressure, but the Hawk defense remained organized and sophomore Victoria Kammerinke made four saves to keep SJU within a goal at the break despite UD holding a 10-1 advantage in shots.
Once the clouds dissipated, Saint Joseph’s (13-3) would make it a tale of two halves as junior Anna Willocks equalized for the Hawks just three minutes into the frame. Freshman Quinn Maguire took off on a long run down the right wing before finding Willocks in the circle for her 11th goal of the season. The goal also moved Willocks into a tie with Nicole Antonini ’07 for second in program history in career goals (52) and points (130).
Both sides enjoyed scoring opportunities throughout the remainder of the half, but it would be the Crimson and Gray that finally cashed in. On the Hawks’ fourth penalty corner of the period, sophomore Kathrin Bentz sent a blast toward the post; freshman Emily Henry got her stick on the end of it for her ninth goal and fourth game-winner of the season to send the capacity crowd into a frenzy with just 1:52 on the clock.
The Blue Hens would threaten, moving the ball down the field quickly, but the Hawks made one final defensive stand to prevent UD from getting a final scoring opportunity.
Kammerinke finished the day with six saves, while Delaware’s Emmeline Oltmans made three.
“Delaware challenged us for the entire game at both ends, and they are very dangerous inside their attacking circle, so our defensive unit really stepped up today with our re-shaping off the ball and our ability to pick up those marks and put on pressure immediately outside the circle,” Farquhar said. “Victoria stepped up again to make big saves for us as well. There were a lot of tempo changes throughout the game, and either team could have capitalized at any time, which added to the excitement.
“Saint Joseph’s did an amazing job with the support for our team today,” she added. “From our parents to our students, and our alums and former coaches that were here, it was really cool to have such an energetic and cheerful atmosphere for the game.”
Saint Joseph’s returns to conference play on Friday with another big matchup as the Hawks visit #24 Massachusetts. Game time in Amherst is set for 3:00 p.m.