MERION STATION, Pa. – Senior forward Anna Willocks notched a goal and an assist as the 10th-ranked Saint Joseph's field hockey team topped Richmond, 3-1, in front of a capacity crowd in the semifinals of the 2018 Atlantic 10 Field Hockey Championship at Ellen Ryan Field on Friday.
“It was really cool having such a big crowd here,” freshman Tonya Botherway said after the game. “The crowd really helps us, especially when we’re playing well and scoring goals and you hear the crowd behind you. It’s an amazing feeling and it really lifts our team hope even higher.”
“It’s tournament time and anything can happen,” head coach Lynn Farquhar said. “There’s a lot of excitement. You can get jitters. We’re thrilled to be on campus, but it also brings an extra level of energy with it and you kind of have to settle into your sport.”
With the win, the Hawks reach the title game for the third consecutive season; they will meet second-seeded VCU in Saturday's final. The Rams topped Massachusetts, 3-2, in double overtime.
Botherway doubled the lead seven minutes later as Willocks released her on a breakaway; the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year then beat UR's Emily Braunewell low to make it 2-0 Hawks in the 15th minute.
Willocks then extended the margin to 3-0 with 9:18 to play in the half, cutting across the top of the circle and firing into the bottom right corner for her 18th goal of the season.
Richmond (7-12) would cut into the lead midway through the second half as Steffie Bongers converted on a corner pass from Olivia Frazier, but the Hawks were able to see out the win to advance to the title game.
The Hawks dominated the possession battle, outshooting the Spiders, 20-3. SJU also held an 8-2 edge in penalty corner opportunities as well.
“Our defensive unit did a great job,” Farquhar said. “It was a lot of fast, direct attack. I think they handled it well. We needed to make a couple more adjustments in the second half...I don’t think we were proud of how we performed [in the second half]. It was another learning moment and I think they’re just ready to build off of that.”
“Today was just the first step towards where we want to go, so we’re not content with winning the game,” Botherway said. “We want to make sure we go in tomorrow in the right mindset, knowing that our jobs aren’t done.”
“I definitely think experience [playing] in a final helps, but we have a lot of new faces as well, so we’re all just going to have to work together to go after it and focus on it as another game,” Willocks said.
Saint Joseph’s will now prepare to take on VCU in the championship game. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m. at Ellen Ryan Field; live streaming will be available on ESPN+. The Hawks took this season’s meeting between the teams, 3-1, at home on October 12.
“It is exciting to get back to the final,” Farquhar said. “We say it’s the best time of the year. It’s like Christmas right now. It’s tournament time we’re all excited and ready to go.”