Field Hockey Blanks Blue Jays for Benner's 100th

Field Hockey Blanks Blue Jays for Benner's 100th

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – One hundred was the magic number for the Ursinus College field hockey team on Wednesday.

The Bears took 100 percent of the 31 shots in their non-conference matchup with Elizabethtown, an offensive avalanche that eventually resulted in a 2-0 decision and the 100th career victory for head coach Janelle Benner.

Sophomore Erin Saybolt broke a scoreless deadlock late in the first half and junior Bridget Sherry continued her penalty stroke mastery to tack on an insurance tally as No. 11 Ursinus (2-2) averted its first three-game losing streak as a Division III program with a dominant performance from start to finish. The spoils were the milestone for Benner, who in her seventh season joins Eleanor Frost Snell (1933-72), Adele Boyd (1973-88), and Laura Moliken (1999-2010) as Bear bosses to reach the century mark. Assistant coach Ashley Johnston has been with Benner for each of those 100 wins.

Ursinus spent nearly the entire contest deep in the Elizabethtown end, but a combination of impressive goaltending by Margo Donlin (12 saves) and some bad luck prevented the home side from pulling away.

The Bears had all kinds of scoring chances before Saybolt finally broke the ice, but each proved fruitless. Senior Brooke Overly nearly had two assists in the first half alone, the first when sophomore Gemma Dufoe misfired inches wide after Overly's cross in the 14th minute. With 3:24 remaining in the first frame, Overly slid a beautiful pass from the right across the crease to freshman Kayla Paulson, whose bid for her first collegiate goal was denied by the left post.

Ursinus' efforts were rewarded with 1:21 to go in the opening period. On the their seventh corner of the half, the Bears cashed in as Saybolt took the insert from freshman Erin McIlhenny at the top of the circle, maneuvered to her right and into shooting position, and rapped a hard shot to the right corner of the cage to deliver a hard-earned 1-0 lead.

The Bears continued to control the proceedings after intermission, racking up 16 more shots and another seven corners. Donlin made nine more saves in the second stanza and got some help from her defense, most notably in the 55th minute when Renee Grill was in the right place to keep Dufoe's shot out of the net after Donlin came out in an effort to intercept a pass by sophomore Abbie Roberts.

Though the Blue Jays, who were coming off a 3-1 win against Muhlenberg and made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, showed few signs of a threat, Ursinus picked up an important insurance marker with 5:59 remaining. Donlin made a save on a shot by Overly, but a penalty stroke was awarded to the Bears. Sherry, the designated stroke artist, snuck a shot off the stick of Donlin and into the bottom left corner of the cage for her sixth career penalty goal in seven tries.

Saybolt led Ursinus with eight shots, while Overly provided six and Roberts five.

Junior goalkeeper Jules Singer hardly had to move to pick up her sixth career shutout for Ursinus, which saw McIlhenny and fellow rookie Gabriela Howell each make her first collegiate start.

The Bears open Centennial Conference play on Saturday, when they welcome McDaniel to Snell Field for a 12 p.m. Homecoming clash.