PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- The fifth-seeded University of Delaware field hockey team continued its late season surge by recording a 3-2 victory over No. 4 seed William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Quarterfinals Friday afternoon at Drexel's Buckley Field.
The Blue Hens, who have now won four of their last five games, improved to 8-11 on the year and advance to face top-seeded Drexel in the CAA Semifinals Saturday at 12 noon at Buckley Field. UD posted a 4-2 victory over the Dragons on October 19, behind a hat trick from Kelsey McKee. William & Mary, which had defeated Delaware, 4-0, in the Blue Hens’ CAA opener on September 28 in Williamsburg, ends its season with a 10-9 record.
Delaware advances to the CAA Semifinals for the fifth time since joining the conference in 2002, and for the first time since winning the league title in 2009.
The Blue Hens struck first 10:17 into the game when redshirt freshman Morgan Hudson (at right) scored her first career goal by tipping in a long shot from freshman Michaela Patzner. However William & Mary would even the contest with 16:40 left in the half when the Tribe’s Pip Saunders lifted a high shot from 10 yards out over UD goalkeeper Sarah Scher and into the cage.
But Delaware would go back in front for good with 7:32 to play in the opening period by scoring on a penalty corner. Junior Toni Popinko receiving the pass and fired a shot toward the cage, which was tipped in from the left side by senior Carley Hecht to put the Blue Hens ahead, 2-1. The goal was the second of the season for Hecht, while Popinko recorded her sixth assist of the year.
The Blue Hens went ahead by two just 8:36 into the second half when UD senior Tory Sharpless dribbled down the left endline and centered a pass to junior Kasey Prettyman, who lifted a shot into the right side of the cage to make it a 3-1 game. Prettyman now has four goals on the season, while Sharpless recorded her first assist on the campaign.
The Tribe pulled within one by scoring on a penalty corner with 12:43 remaining, as Christine Johnson scored in front off assists from Emma Clifton and Saunders. William & Mary had several quality chances over the final 10 minutes, but the Blue Hen backline held firm and junior goalkeeper Sarah Scher made two keys saves as Delaware held on for the victory.
“We have definitely improved since the beginning of CAA play, and we are excited to move on because we won today due to playing as a team,” said Blue Hen second-year head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. “We knew William & Mary would come back, but we remained calm and played good team defense at the end of the game.”
The Tribe held a 10-6 shot advantage, and enjoyed a 5-2 edge in penalty corners. Scher stopped six shots while going the distance in the Blue Hen goal, while Elizabeth Frey stopped three shots for William & Mary.
“We played as a team today and everybody did their roles, and that was the key to the win,” Hecht said.