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W&M's Pippin Saunders leads the CAA in assists this season with nine.

2013 CAA Field Hockey Championship Preview

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 11/07/2013
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RICHMOND, Va. (November 7, 2013) – The 2013 CAA Field Hockey Championship gets underway on Friday at the University of Delaware’s Rullo Stadium, in Newark, Del., with four squads competing for the league title and an automatic berth into the NCAA Field Hockey Championship.

Top-seeded Delaware (14-4, 6-0 CAA) hosts its first ever field hockey championship and kicks off the semifinal format on Friday, November 8 at 4:00 p.m. versus fourth-seeded William & Mary (8-10, 3-3 CAA). The Hens defeated the Tribe (4-0) in their only meeting of the season, also at Rullo Stadium, on Oct. 4. Friday’s second contest features the second-seeded Drexel Dragons (13-6, 4-2 CAA) squaring off against third-seeded Northeastern (7-12, 3-3 CAA). That game, beginning at 7:00 p.m., is a rematch of last year’s CAA field hockey title contest which saw the Dragons defeat the Huskies 2-1 in overtime.

On Sunday, November 10, the championship game is slated for a 1:00 p.m. start.

The host Blue Hens, currently ranked #17 in the latest NFHCA/Penn Monto national poll, went through league play unblemished at 6-0 and own a 14-4 mark overall. UD has saved some of its best play for last, as its won five straight games and eight of the team’s last 10 overall. The Blue Hens have outscored opponents 19-1 over their last four games and rank first in the CAA in scoring average (3.27). They can also play some defense, ranking first in shutouts (6) and goals against average (1.39). Freshman Esmee Peet and sophomore Michaela Patzner power the offense, having combined for 24 goals and 10 assists this season. Senior goalkeeper Sarah Scher owns all six of UD’s shutouts this season and ranks third in the league in save percentage (.760). Senior Kasey Prettyman provides plenty of leadership, while freshman Meghan Winesett has also impressed this year, scoring seven goals to go along with eight assists.

Drexel enters this year’s CAA tournament as the defending champions, one year after capturing their first league title. The Dragons have plenty of motivation after they dropped a tough home decision to UD last Friday, but rebounded well versus Towson two days later to punch their ticket into the championship. Drexel was ranked in the NFHCA poll for five weeks this season and faced a challenging out-of-conference slate that prepared it well for league play. Elise DiDonato and Lindsay McArdle, the preseason CAA Player of the Year, share team captain duties and provide the Dragons with plenty of guidance. DiDonato has scored five goals – four of which have been game-winners – and dished out a team-high eight assists, while McArdle ranks second on the team with six tallies this year. Christina Conrad has started 60 games over three years and is tied for first on her squad with 18 points in 2013. Goalkeeper Jantien Gunter owns 11 career shutouts and averages 5.26 saves per game. The junior also ranks first in the CAA in save percentage (.781).

Northeastern’s best weapon heading into the tournament certainly has to be its experience. The Huskies have reached the CAA title game each of the past two seasons, but have come up short in their quest for the trophy. Though the squad has also reached the NCAA tournament the last two years, the Huskies will most likely need to win the league title to clinch a third straight trip. NU defeated Drexel at home (1-0) on Oct. 11 in the team’s CAA opener, while the Huskies have been accustomed to close games all season. Overall, Northeastern has played in nine games that have been decided by one goal and are 5-4 in such contests. Lindsay Bennett, the team’s lone senior, has scored 10 goals and provided three assists to lead the way offensively this season. Freshmen Emmy Zweserijn and Natalie Stewart haven’t shied away from the action in their rookie seasons, registering seven goals and four assists and four goals and three assists, respectively.

The Tribe of William & Mary has shown at times this season that they can play with anyone. They faced five ranked teams on the road this season and earned two big wins – defeating then-No. 5 Virginia on Oct. 13 and then-No. 18 American on Oct. 27. Longtime assistant-turned head coach Tess Ellis has her team believing they can win the title after W&M defeated Hofstra (2-1) in overtime last Sunday to make the conference postseason. Sophomore Pippin Saunders and senior Taylor Hodge are juggernauts offensively for the Tribe, having accounted for 17 of the team’s 34 goals this year. Saunders also involves others in the action, leading the CAA in assists with nine. The Tribe also plays solid defense and averages 1.84 points per contest. Out of all the teams in the tournament this weekend, only Drexel (6.42) has a higher average than the Tribe (6.17) in penalty corners. Goalkeepers Cate Johnson (14 starts) and Meredith Savage (4 starts) have both performed well this season.

Video for both semifinal matches and the championship contest of the CAA Field Hockey Championship will be carried live for free in high definition on CAA.TV and CAA's iPad app. A free login will be required to view the games via CAA.TV on a computer or using the CAA's iPad app. The same free login link will be provided accordingly on the Field Hockey #CAAChamps Central page.

General admission is $7 for adults and $5 for youth (18 and under) each day. All participating institution's students are admitted free of charge with a valid student ID. Parking will be available in the parking lots at the David M. Nelson Athletics Complex, which surrounds Delaware's field hockey stadium.

For more information, visit the CAA Field Hockey Championship page by clicking here and for live updates over the weekend, follow us on Twitter @CAASports.

2013 CAA FIELD HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP

Friday, November 8 - Semifinals (Rullo Stadium – Newark, Del.)

#4 William & Mary at #1 Delaware – 4:00 p.m.

#3 Northeastern vs. #2 Drexel – 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 10 - Championship (Rullo Stadium -- Newark, Del.)

 

CAA Championship Game - 1 p.m.

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