NEWARK, Del. - The University of Delaware field hockey squad continued its hot late-season play and celebrated Senior Day in style Sunday afternoon as the Blue Hens knocked off Colonial Athletic Association rival Towson 3-1 at sun-drenched Rullo Stadium.
The Hens (8-9, 3-3 CAA), who continued to strengthen their hopes for a post-season CAA Tournament berth with their second straight win, got first half goals from freshman Kelsey McKee, junior Nicole Onorato (at right), and sophomore Clare O'Malley and cruised to the win.
“We had a great week of practice and our execution was really good the last two games,” said Delaware first-year head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. “Getting this win really feels good. We are gaining more confidence and the kids are excited. We are looking forward to another great week of practice and hopefully post-season after that.”
Delaware now stands tied for fourth in the CAA standings with Drexel but holds the tie-breaker over the Dragons, a team the Hens downed 3-0 on Friday night. The top six team qualify for the CAA Tournament, which will be held Nov. 3-6 at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. The Hens have two CAA game remaining with road games at James Madison and Virginia Commonwealth next weekend.
Towson (8-9, 2-4 CAA), which lost its third straight game, got its lone goal from Janice Kovach 10 minutes into the second half put could never muster any more offense the rest of the afternoon. The Hens, who avenged a 3-2 overtime loss at Towson a year ago, now lead the series vs. the Tigers by a 29-5-1 margin.
Blue Hen senior goalkeeper Noelle Diana, who was honored before the game along with fellow seniors Amanda McCardell and Kayla Schweitzer, picked up the win by posting six saves on the day.
Delaware held a slim 12-10 advantage in shots and a 6-4 margin in penalty corners but made almost every one of them count. Junior Carley Hecht added two assists on the day, upping her team-leading total to seven in that category, while Schweitzer also added an assist.
The Hens struck early, going up 2-0 in the first 11 minutes of the game as McKee scored her team-high ninth goal of the season off a penalty corner as she took feeds from Schweitzer and Hecht and sent the ball past Towson goalkeeper Christina Siwiec (four saves) just 3:24 into the game. The Hens upped the lead to 2-0 just seven minutes later when Onorato rifled a shot into the cage from close range.
Delaware increased the advantage to 3-0 with 5:41 left in the first half as O’Malley scored her second goal of the season, tipping in a long pass from the right side from Hecht.
McKee’s team-high nine goals are the most for a Blue Hen freshman since former All-American Leah Geib netted 10 goals for the 2001 squad. McKee could become the first Blue Hen to lead the squad in goals scored as a freshman since Melissa Hefner tied for the team lead with seven in 1993.