Field Hockey Finds Offense, but Edged by Assumption, 3-2

Photo credit: Maggie McComish.
Photo credit: Maggie McComish.

RINDGE, N.H. (September 10, 2019) – A controversial penalty-shot call in the third quarter would stand as the game-winning goal on Tuesday afternoon at Sodexo Field, as the Franklin Pierce University field hockey team suffered its third straight non-conference defeat at Sodexo Field to open the season. Visiting Assumption came away with the 3-2 win, courtesy of goals from three different players, including the stroke winner from sophomore forward Summer Walsh in the 45th minute. Freshman midfielder Demi Sahuleka (Dieren, Netherlands) scored her first collegiate goal in defeat for the Ravens, while sophomore back Julianne Sacco (Southborough, Mass.) added a score as well.

With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 0-3, while Assumption improves to 2-0.

Each quarter would see at least one goal in what was a fairly busy afternoon offensively in Rindge. Ultimately, Assumption ran up advantages of 22-7 in shot attempts, 15-4 in shots on goal and 12-5 in penalty corners. Despite the deficits, Franklin Pierce was able to hang around and make things interesting through the game's final minutes.

For the second time in three games, the Ravens surrendered a goal in the first minute of play, as Assumption jumped out front just 58 seconds in, off the first of its dozen corner opportunities. The initial shot on the play came from Walsh, but senior back Jessica Strassburg (Longmeadow, Mass.) turned it aside with a defensive save. However, the rebound came right out to senior forward Courtney Sickel five yards in front of the left post. Sickel's shot from there nicked off the inside of the left post and into the back of the cage for her first goal of the season.

Franklin Pierce found an answer, with its first goal of the season, in the 22nd minute, after a corner of its own. The Ravens ran a play for Sahuleka at the edge of the circle on the right-wing side, and the freshman blasted her shot from there. Sahuleka's shot was saved by Assumption freshman goalkeeper Kate Smiley, as was a long-range rebound shot from senior midfielder Allison Collins (Sandown, N.H.). The second rebound got caught up in the feet of Smiley just a handful of yards in front of the cage and freshman forward Meghan Winn (Newburyport, Mass.) got her stick to the ball before the keeper could sort the situation out. Winn poked it just off to the left for Sacco, who had an easy finish into the empty goal for her first goal of the year.

Assumption turned up the heat in the third quarter, as the Greyhounds generated six corners and 11 shots, including nine on goal, while putting home a pair of goals. In the 40th minute, Assumption reclaimed the lead, at 2-1, in the aftermath of a broken corner play. Junior forward Sammy Shea had her shot saved by Franklin Pierce junior goalkeeper Olivia Barnes (Greenwich, N.Y.), but the rebound came out to the left side for junior forward Jenny Beardsley, who quickly salted away her first of the season.

The game's pivotal call came in the 45th minute, as Assumption counter-attacked off of a blocked shot during a Franklin Pierce corner attempt. Junior forward Deirdre Burchill took off the other way, steaming down the field and into the left side of the circle with the ball for Assumption. Barnes came off her line to challenge, and Burchill went around her on the left side. Barnes went to the ground to try to make a play, but tripped up Burchill in the process, and was whistled for a penalty stroke for fouling on the breakaway. The Franklin Pierce captains and coaching staff protested, presumably that its back-checking defenders were also in a position to make a play on Burchill, which would have negated the breakaway and caused the foul to result merely in a penalty corner instead. Their arguments were in vain however, as the Greyhounds were awarded the stroke.

Assumption sent Walsh to the penalty spot, and the sophomore ultimately took aim at the left side of the net. Barnes got a piece of the shot, but could not keep it out, as it deflected into the upper-left reaches of the cage for Walsh's first collegiate goal.

The goal would stand as the game-winner, as Assumption largely shut the game down defensively in the final quarter. Franklin Pierce would strike once, with 2:45 to play, to cut the gap to 3-2, but would not have a chance to find the equalizer. The final goal came off a corner play, which set up similar to the one the Ravens had scored on in the second quarter. The injection came to the top of the circle for Collins, who dished it off to the right for Sahuleka. Sahuleka teed up her shot from there and drove it through traffic and into the back of the cage for her first career goal.

Barnes (0-3) finished with 11 saves against 14 shots on goal, but was stuck with the loss in the Franklin Pierce net. Smiley (1-0) made two saves against four shots on her goal to pick up the win for Assumption.

The Ravens return to the field on Saturday, Sept. 14, when they travel to New Haven to open the Northeast-10 Conference portion of their scheduled. Game time is set for 4 p.m. at DellaCamera Stadium in West Haven, Conn.

For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce field hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' brand new online store (https://www.shopfpuravens.com).