Field Hockey Nipped by TCNJ in Wild Thriller

Field Hockey Nipped by TCNJ in Wild Thriller

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – No. 2 TCNJ had one blow too many for the No. 9 Ursinus College field hockey team in a scintillating showdown of national powers that ended in a 5-4 victory for the visitors.

Devon Carroll recorded two goals and an assist and Gabriela Howell added a goal and two assists to have a hand in every goal for the Bears (7-2), who saw their seven-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the unbeaten Lions.

TCNJ (8-0) had allowed only four goals all season, but Ursinus was more than up to the task of breaching its defenses. The Lions never trailed, but could never get comfortable against a resilient Bears squad that had an answer for every salvo – until time ran out.

Tied 3-3 after a stirring 45 minutes, TCNJ went ahead for good just 18 seconds into the fourth quarter and tacked on an insurance marker with 5:51 remaining. But the Bears were far from done.

Erin Saybolt blasted a shot from the left side of the circle into an open cage following a penalty corner to get the home side back to within a goal at the 3:47 mark, and the Lions went down a player for the final 3:21 after receiving a yellow card. Ursinus threw everything it had at an equalizer, but TCNJ was able to see out the tense final minutes.

The first half was a high-quality tug-of-war between a pair of attack-minded sides, each absorbing pressure before dealing it right back. TCNJ nosed ahead twice, only for the Bears to answer back each time.

Samantha Reed opened the scoring just 2:43 into the contest, shooting from the left side of the circle and seeing her effort deflect off a defender's stick and over the head of Addie Frey. Ursinus needed only two-and-a-half minutes to respond, with Gabriela Howell perfectly tipping a long pass from Saybolt into the lower left corner of the cage for a stunning equalizer.

TCNJ went back in front, 2-1, when Tori Tiefenthaler's shot from in close arced over Frey's head once more, but the Bears again pulled the goal back two-and-a-half minutes later on a patented penalty play. Laura Rothschild inserted the corner to the top of the circle for Anna Hall, who stopped the ball and left it for Carroll to blast into the bottom right corner for her seventh of the year and a 2-2 tie with 8:02 remaining in the first half.

The Lions took a 3-2 lead with 11:16 to go in the third quarter before Carroll pulled it back, tipping in a pass from Howell at the right post to make it 3-3 with 8:06 left in the frame.

The pattern continued as Cayla Andrews, the nation's leader at over two goals per game, got on the scoresheet in the early moments of the fourth, and TCNJ finally gave itself a two-goal cushion when Tori Tiefenthaler dove to score on a remarkable tap-in at the left post.

TCNJ outshot the Bears, 24-12, and had an 11-5 advantage in corners, but never pulled away thanks in large part to another outstanding performance by Frey. The reigning Centennial Conference and NFHCA national defensive player of the week, Frey made 11 saves to keep Ursinus close throughout.

Each of Ursinus' losses this season have come by identical 5-4 score lines to teams ranked in the top-5: Rowan and TCNJ.

The Bears resume CC competition Saturday at Dickinson.