HAMDEN, Conn. – The No. 2 seed Old Dominion field hockey team earned a 3-1 victory over No. 3 seed Liberty in the BIG EAST Tournament Semifinals match on Friday afternoon, to advance to the BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship Game Presented by Jeep.
The semifinal victory was ODU’s first in the BIG EAST Tournament since its first season in the conference in 2013 season, when the Monarchs took down Louisville, 2-0 to take on Connecticut in the finals.
Just like in 2013, the Monarchs will again play the No. 1 seed Connecticut in the finals game on Sunday, November 10 at 1:00 p.m., with the winner being crowned BIG EAST Champions and receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
"I'm proud of the hockey we played today and glad for our team to get the reward for how hard the players worked on the field," head coach Andrew Griffiths shared after the match. "We put a lot of effort off the ball to create defensive pressure and also to get open, and I felt we made it very difficult for their backs to get comfortable on the ball. We also moved the ball nicely and quickly, and it was a fast game, a fun one to play."
ODU fired the opening salvo early, as freshman Nicole Fredricks deflected a shot passed Liberty’s Allison Schaefer for her second goal of the season to give the Monarchs a 1-0 advantage just over five minutes into the game.
Later on in the first frame, Monarch goalkeeper Cam MacGillivray came out to meet Liberty's Jill Bolton, but Bolton weaved passed the sprawling MacGillivray, leaving the goal open for a shot. Junior Marlee McClendon quickly sprung into action, knocking the Bolton shot away to keep the Flames off the board with a defensive save.
The Flames did crack the scoreboard in the second quarter however, as Lizzie Hamlett scored her fifth goal of the season in the 19th minute to tie the game.
In the 28th minute, the Monarchs jumped back ahead just before the halftime horn, as senior Ashleigh Thomas took advantage of a Liberty turnover in its own defensive zone, taking the ball and passing it to an open Riley Taylor, who then backhanded it behind Schaefer for the score.
Going into the halftime locker rooms, ODU held a 6-4 shot advantage, while holding the Flames to just one corner opportunity in the opening 30 minutes.
Senior Tori Harwood added to the Monarch lead in the 41st minute of action, as she caused a turnover in front of the Flame goal and deposited the ball into the back of the net, giving her team a two-goal advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The ODU defense stifled the offensive unit of the Flames, holding it to just two shots, neither on goal in the game’s final frame to hold on to the 3-1 victory and advance to the BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship Game Presented by Jeep.
ODU held the shot advantage throughout the match, finishing ahead, 11-8 in the category, while the two teams had four penalty corner opportunities each. MacGillivray ended the game with two saves for her 11th win of the season.
Fredricks, Taylor and Harwood each ended the game with a goal on two shots. Thomas and Alice Demars each tallied an assist in the effort.
"We had strong performances from a lot of players, and that's what you need to win tournament games," Griffiths went on to say. "We have a lot more work to do on Sunday, but I'm just very proud of how we played today. I'm excited for our next game."