NORFOLK, Va. -- Fourth-seeded James Madison scored the game-winner with 16 minutes remaining and the University of Delaware field hockey team couldn't cash in on a number of second half opportunities as the No. 5 seed Blue Hens were knocked out of the Colonial Athletic Association Virginia 529 Field Hockey championship quarterfinals, 2-1, on Thursday night at Old Dominion's Powhatan Sports Complex.
JMU Courtney Versfield tallied her third goal of the season off her own rebound to send the Dukes (9-9) into the semifinals where they will face top seed and host Old Dominion Saturday afternoon. The Hens, making their second CAA Tournament appearance in three years, end the season with a record of 9-11.
The Dukes downed the Hens for the second time in seven days after also defeating Delaware 1-0 last Friday.
“We played great hockey today,” said first-year head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. “There were moments where we were dominating, but it was a close game in the end. And I told my team directly after to keep their heads up. They played a great hockey game and they should be proud to be Blue Hens.”
Delaware's Tory Sharpless (at right) tied the match at 1-1 in the sixth minute of the second half on a rocket shot from the top of the circle but the Hens could not produce any more offense. JMU goalkeeper Margo Savage got a left pad on it, but the ball had enough force to continue past the line and into the back of the cage. The goal was the sixth of the year for Sharpless.
Delaware continued to carry the momentum through the second half, out-shooting the Dukes, 8-6, and taking one more penalty corner, 3-2, in the final 35 minutes of play. For the game, the teams had the same number of shots, 14, but the Blue Hens held the advantage in corners, 8-7.
Blue Hen senior goalkeeper Noelle Diana made two saves on the night as JMU only had four shots on goal. The Blue Hens tested Savage all night, forcing her to keep the Dukes in the game. Savage recorded six saves on the night, including four in the first half.
Ysaline Nobels put James Madison on the board in the 13th minute of the game off a penalty corner. Dana Allaband and Jenna Taylor set up Nobels, who scored her fifth goal of the season. The Dukes went into the halftime break leading 1-0.
After the Sharpless strike knotted the game at 1-1, Versfield tallied the game-winner on her third goal of the season as she scored off her own rebound. Diana was able to make two consecutive stops, but the rebound returned right to Versfield's stick and she slid one past Diana for the go-ahead goal.
“We were able to get back to a 1-1 tie and we started pressing them hard,” van de Kerkhof said of his second half strategy. “I thought we were going to grab the 2-1 lead, but we turned it over. They were sharp and we had to climb out of the hole again. After the timeout, we had two great opportunities towards the end, but they went just wide of the opposite post.”
The loss ended the careers for three Blue Hens as Diana, Amanda McCardell, and Kayla Schweitzer played their final game at Delaware.
Diana finishes fifth all-time at Delaware in goalie saves, stopping 343 career shots. McCardell scored 17 career goals while adding five assists for 49 points. Schweitzer had a career year on the scoreboard, tallying a career-best seven assists this season.
No. 3 Hofstra faced No. 6 Towson in the other quarterfinal game Thursday night with that winner advancing to the semifinals to take on Northeastern on Saturday. The championship game is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
#4 James Madison….1…1…2
Scoring Summary: First Half – JMU – Nobels (Taylor, Allaband), 12:33; Second Half – Delaware – Sharpless, 40:55; JMU – Versfield (unassisted), 53:20.
Shots: Delaware – 14, JMU – 14; Penalty Corner – Delaware - 8, JMU- 7; Saves: - Delaware- 2 (Diana), JMU – 6 (Savage).