Field Hockey Upsets No. 15 Ursinus to Land in Playoffs

Saturday, October 26, 2013
 

Football Men’s soccer Volleyball, women’s soccer

After the nationally ranked Ursinus field hockey team scored two nearly identical goals off penalty corners in a span of less than three minutes in the first half, Muhlenberg junior Kayleigh Thies had a message for her teammates. “They scored two, so we need to score more,” she yelled back from the front line.

Allie Califano
Junior Allie Califano contributed to a defensive effort that held Ursinus to fewer than three goals for the first time in nine games.
That was a good strategy. The Mules did score more, one more in fact, coming from behind to beat the 15th-ranked Bears, 3-2. The landmark win, combined with a 4-2 loss by Johns Hopkins to Gettysburg, clinched Muhlenberg’s first Centennial Conference playoff berth since 2007.

With just one league game left in the regular season, Muhlenberg (8-7, 6-3) is in sole possession of fourth place. Unless Ursinus loses to 2-14 Swarthmore in its last regular-season game, the Mules will play Haverford in the first round of the playoffs, with the winner of next Saturday’s game between the two teams at Muhlenberg earning the right to host the rematch.

Ursinus (11-4, 7-2) had not lost to Muhlenberg since joining the CC in 2003; the Mules’ lone previous series win was in 1980. And the Bears hadn’t lost to too many teams this season – they were coming off a win against ninth-ranked The College of New Jersey, and their lone Division III losses coming in were by one goal to teams ranked sixth and seventh in the country.

“I’ve always talked in my career about how I wanted to beat each team in the conference at least once,” said senior back Ashley DeAngelis. “But beating Ursinus tops it all!”

The win carried extra special meaning for DeAngelis and the other three seniors on the team, who as freshmen suffered a 12-0 loss to an Ursinus team that advanced to the NCAA semifinals.

“After that game I think all of us just really felt ... I don’t even know the word for it,” DeAngelis said. “It was really tough. This just shows the progress the program has made the last four years.”

The back-to-back goals by Ursinus put the Mules in a 2-0 hole with 10:51 left in the first half. But Muhlenberg, which came from behind in its previous two wins against Gettysburg and Widener, didn’t panic.

Emily Boyle
Boyle is the 13th different Mule to score a goal this season. That ties the school record set by the 1989 team, which earned the only NCAA Tournament bid in program history.
“We were definitely on our heels,” noted junior Christine Germaske of falling behind. “But we knew we could come back, we stayed patient and we used our turf to our advantage.”

Thies cut the Ursinus advantage in half with a rip from the top of the circle off a penalty corner with 44.5 seconds left in the first half. And less than seven minutes into the second half, Thies set up freshman Emily Boyle on a breakaway for her first career goal, tying the score at 2-2.

The assist was the school-record 18th of Thies’ career, and the three points in the game moved her into a tie for sixth on the program’s all-time list with 72 for her career.

The back-and-forth game, in which each team took at least 15 shots, was decided on a mistake. With 20:01 left in the second half, Germaske sent a cross along the endline that was deflected by an Ursinus player into the goal.

All that was left was for the Mules to protect their one-goal lead – no easy feat against an explosive Ursinus team that came in averaging five goals per game (second in Division III).

“All season long we have been following them. As defenders we were constantly talking about their style of play,” said DeAngelis. “We knew they were dangerous on corners, but what really scared us was their transition game. We made sure we had their best players marked. We played really well.”

So well that Ursinus did not score a goal from the run of play in the entire game. And even though the Bears took 17 corners, the Mules made an adjustment after the two goals and successfully warded off the rest of them.

Ursinus took eight shots and six corners after Muhlenberg went ahead, but junior Sierra Lenker made six of her 11 saves in that span to preserve the lead.

“The last 11 minutes were the scariest 11 minutes of my life!” said Germaske. “We were on defense the whole time. But we stood tall and stayed composed.”
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