Kaleigh Anderson (@KaleighAnd1)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College field hockey team posted their second consecutive New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) win, defeating visiting Wheelock College in overtime, 4-3, Wednesday afternoon at Leary Field. With the win, the Blazers move to 4-6 on the season and 2-0 in the NECC, while the Wildcats drop to 2-7 and 1-2 in conference play.
After twelve minutes of uncontested action the Blazers broke the scoreboard at the 12:02 mark after sophomore Madison Messier (Warren, Mass.) made her way through the midfield, splitting the Wildcat defense and notching the first score of the contest, giving the Blazers the early 1-0 advantage. The Wildcats continued to push up the lines however, forcing the ball to the outside to create lanes for offensive opportunities. At 15:17, senior Emma Panto (Somers, Conn.) posted the first Wheelock goal of the evening to even the tides and induce Wildcat momentum.
Despite the Wildcats owning the shot column in the first half, 9-5, Elms continued to strike as they lit up the scoreboard once again at the 27:56 when a senior Marie Lafortune (Southwick, Mass.) cross from the right side found the stick of freshmen Francesca Davitt (East Longmeadow, Mass.), who offered the pass back to sophomore Hayley Omahen (San Diego, Calif.) for the second blazer goal of the afternoon.
Wheelock continued to push runs down the field eventually tying up the contest at the 33:19 mark after a Panto ball found the stick of freshmen Julia D'Onofrio (Salem, N.H.) who connected to the back of the cage sending both squads into the half notched at two goals apiece.
Tensions were high at the start of the second with both squads making runs up and down the turf in hopes of seizing the advantage to close out the contest. Wheelock struck first tallying their final goal of the night in the 56th minute when D'Onofrio found the back right of the cage. The Blazers continued to rally finding the equalizer with ten minutes remaining on the board after a Messier ball found sophomore Jeszenia McGuire (Branfield, Mass.) who was able to slide past Wheelock senior keeper Jenna O'Leary (Freetown, Mass.) to send the contest into overtime action.
The Blazers were able to close out the overtime victory with eight minutes to spare as Messier pushed her way down the field to tally the unassisted overtime game changer to cap the contest.
"I feel great about this win, especially the energy we finished with," said Elms Head Coach Anika Goodhue. "We started very slow, which was concerning, but we had a few pick me up talks and found a way to dig deep at the end and find some fire to ignite a couple goals. Our offense was connecting passes well today, and when we finally had scoring opportunities, we were making smart decisions and shooting smart, which is good to see. We were able to capitalize on a late timeout call by Wheelock and came back out with the desire to score in the final six minutes. Opponents are going to start to pick up on our tendencies and key players moving forward, so now we have to find a way to spread out the our talent and responsibilities to create additions scoring threats."
The Wildcats outshot the Blazers, 17-8, during the contest. Sophomore keeper Jillian Lapponese (Enfield, Conn.) posted a game-high 11 saves, while O'Leary collected three on the afternoon.
The Blazers will return to action on Saturday as they will play host to Becker College in NECC action at 2:00 p.m. The Wildcats will face off in conference play against Regis College Saturday at 3 p.m.