COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College field hockey team used a first-half flurry and typically stifling defense to blank Haverford, 4-0, in Centennial Conference action Wednesday night.
Four different players scored for the Bears, who remained unbeaten in 19 all-time matchups with Haverford and posted their fourth shutout of the season. Freshman Erin McIlhenny netted her first career goal, while senior Brooke Overly found the back of the cage for the third straight game and fifth in her last six, also handing out an assist. First-year Gabriela Howell also had a goal and an assist for Ursinus, her first career three-point night.
The Bears (6-4, 3-1) came out firing, earning four corners and peppering Haverford goalie Danielle Rette with four shots in the first five minutes and change. None proved fruitful, however, and it proved to be the defense that helped Ursinus break open the game.
After a turnover, Howell passed ahead to classmate Gemma Dufoe, who finished a breakaway with a shot through Rette's legs for a 1-0 lead just 5:44 into the contest.
Behind nine saves from Rette, the Fords (6-5, 1-3) buckled down until a green card gave the Bears an advantage they took ruthless advantage of, scoring two goals just 27 seconds apart late in the half. After Overly's shot deflected off a Haverford player on the goal line, freshman Gabriela Howell was right there to tap in the loose change for a 2-0 lead.
Less than half a minute later, Overly stepped in front of a kicked clearance by Rette and blasted a top-shelf shot for her team-leading sixth goal of the season and a 3-0 advantage with 4:31 left in the half. The Fords garnered two corners in the opening stanza, but only managed one off-target shot.
Haverford found its footing in the early portion of the second half, gaining five penalty corners and forcing Ursinus goalkeeper Jules Singer into a pair of saves, including a nice diving effort that broke up what looked to be a sure score for the Fords.
Ursinus imposed its will once more and added another tally to its margin with 3:59 to play, when Overly ripped a pass from the top-left side of the circle to McIlhenny for a tap-in at the right post for the rookie's first goal.
The Fords earned three corners and fired off two shots after time had expired, but both opportunities went begging.
Ursinus commanded a 20-8 advantage in shots and a 17-10 surplus in corners, forcing 11 saves from Rette in addition to the Fords' defensive save. Overly put all five of her shots on goal, sophomore Erin Saybolt matched her with five, and Howell and Dufoe chipped in three apiece.
Singer stopped all three shots that Haverford put on cage en route to her seventh career shutout.
The field hockey team now braces for its most important game of the season, as No. 14 Franklin & Marshall comes to town for a rematch of the last four CC championship games. The Diplomats are in first place at 5-0, but a victory would give Ursinus the head-to-head tiebreaker.