PREVIEW: Field Hockey Returns to Postseason for NE10 First Round Tilt at No. 4 Saint Anselm

PREVIEW: Field Hockey Returns to Postseason for NE10 First Round Tilt at No. 4 Saint Anselm

Northeast-10 Conference Championship Central

RINDGE, N.H. (November 5, 2019) – For the first time since 2011, the Franklin Pierce University field hockey team returns to the postseason on Tuesday evening, as they head across Route 101 to Manchester, N.H., for the first round of the Northeast-10 Conference Championship. The eighth-seeded Ravens will meet top seed and No. 4 nationally ranked Saint Anselm at 6 p.m. at Grappone Stadium.

Franklin Pierce (8-10) is back in the NE10 Championship for the first time in eight years, and will be making its fifth all-time appearance in the league's postseason tournament. The Ravens are 0-4 in the team's four previous trips to the postseason.

Meanwhile, Saint Anselm (16-2) makes its fifth straight trip to the NE10 Championship, as well as its sixth appearance overall. The Hawks have a 4-5 all-time record in the tournament and have finished as the runner-up in two of the last three seasons (2018, 2016).

Scouting the Ravens

Franklin Pierce got things started on the right note in September, with wins in three of the team's first four NE10 games, and then later solidified its postseason position with a three-game winning streak in mid-October. A 4-2 Senior Day win over Pace at home on Oct. 26 officially punched the first postseason ticket for the Ravens since 2011. However, the team heads into the postseason on a two-game losing streak, after suffering shutouts at the hands of Saint Anselm and Southern New Hampshire to close out the regular season.

The Ravens are led offensively by sophomore back Julianne Sacco (Southborough, Mass.), who has a team-best 14 points on seven goals. Sophomore midfielder Feline van Doorn (Barendrecht, Netherlands) has added 13 points on five goals and three assists, while senior forward Madison Gagnon (Milford, N.H.) has contributed 12 points on five goals and two assists.

Sacco is the team's primary inserter on corner plays, while senior midfielder Allison Collins (Sandown, N.H.) and junior midfielder Nicole McDowell (Yarmouth, Maine) make up the battery. Collins has four points on a goal and two assists on the season. Freshman midfielder Demi Sahuleka (Dieren, Netherlands) is a popular option on corner plays and has a pair of goals on the season.

Collins and McDowell are also members of the defensive corner unit, though that brigade is headlined by senior back Jessica Strassburg (Longmeadow, Mass.). Strassburg has piled up 10 defensive saves during her senior season, which has established a new program single-season record. She also took over the program's all-time defensive saves recorded earlier this fall, and currently has 17 for her career.

Junior goalkeeper Olivia Barnes (Greenwich, N.Y.) has logged the lion's share of the minutes in the Franklin Pierce net. She has collected 106 saves against 134 shots to post a .791 save percentage and a 1.55 goals-against average. Barnes has put together a 7-10 record with four shutouts.

Scouting the Hawks

On the other side of the ledger, Saint Anselm has been nothing short of dominant throughout its run to the NE10 regular-season title. In 14 league games, the Hawks have outscored their opponents 56-1. The lone goal against did lead to a 1-0 loss at Assumption on Oct. 16, but all 13 NE10 victories for Saint Anselm have come via shutout.

The Hawks have four players who have topped 20 points this fall. Senior forward Hannah Friend (10-8-28) and sophomore forward Carly LaCasse (12-4-28) have collected 28 apiece, while senior forward Michelle Lemelin (8-4-20) and junior forward Ericka Meissner (8-4-20) have each put together 20-point seasons. Friend sits third in the NE10 with eight assists, while LaCasse has piled up six game-winning goals.

Defensively, Saint Anselm has simply been stifling. In 18 games thus far, the Hawks have allowed just 32 shots on goal (1.78 per game) and four goals (0.22 per game). Junior goalkeeper Julia Hand has handled most of the Hawks' goalkeeping duties, such that they are. She has stopped 21 of 24 shots to post an .875 save percentage, a 0.21 goals-against average, a 15-2 record and 10 shutouts.

Earlier this Season

The two teams have met twice this season, both at Sodexo Field, and with the Hawks winning both via shutout, as they tend to do.

In a non-conference meeting in the season opener on Sept. 5, Saint Anselm picked up a 1-0 win on the strength of a goal from LaCasse just 49 seconds in. Barnes collected four saves, while Strassburg added a defensive save in defeat.

In the NE10 meeting between the two on Oct. 29, it was a 3-0 victory for the Hawks. Senior midfielder Mary Nee bookended the scoring, while sophomore midfielder Andrea McNeil added a score as well. Barnes piled up 10 saves, while the team added three defensive saves as well: one each for Collins, Sacco and Strassburg.

Previously in the Postseason

Tuesday night will mark the first-ever postseason meeting between Franklin Pierce and Saint Anselm.

Headed to the Game?

If you plan on making the trip to Manchester on Tuesday night, directions to Saint Anselm's athletic facilities can be found here: https://saintanselmhawks.com/information/Athletic_Facilities/driving_directions

Ticket prices are set as follows: 

Adults - $6
Children/Seniors - $4
Students (with valid ID from NE10 institutions) - $1

Per Conference policy, no complimentary admissions will be issued.

How to Follow Along

If you prefer to follow the action from home, from work or from elsewhere, both live video and live stats will be available. 

Live stats: https://www.saintanselmhawks.com/sports/fh/2019-20/boxscores/20191105_831g.xml
Video: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/saintanselm/

Up Next

The winner of Tuesday's game will advance to meet the winner of another Tuesday first-round affair, featuring fourth-seeded Stonehill and fifth-seeded Assumption, who will meet at 1 p.m., at W.B. Mason Stadium in Easton, Mass. The semifinal round of the NE10 Championship is slated for Friday, Nov. 8, with game times to be determined.

Tuesday's other first round contests feature second-seeded Adelphi hosting seventh-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas at 4 p.m. at Motamed Field in Garden City, N.Y., and six seed Bentley paying a visit to three seed Southern New Hampshire for a 4 p.m. start at Larkin Field in Manchester, N.H.

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' online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).