Field Hockey One Step Away From NCAA Tournament

Field Hockey One Step Away From NCAA Tournament

FARMINGTON, Maine – University of Maine at Farmington field hockey will be playing in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Crossover Championship on Saturday, November 5.  The Beavers will be playing NAC West Champion, Wells College, at Castleton University at 1:00pm.  The NAC Crossover Champion will receive an automatic berth to the 2016 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship.

UMF is entering the game as winners of its last four games, including last Saturday's victory in the NAC East Championship over rival Husson University by a score of 1-0.  Sophomore Andrea Stemm (Gorham, Maine/Gorham) scored off a penalty corner in the second overtime period for the game-winning goal.

Wells advanced by winning the NEAC Championship and NAC West Championship, 6-1 over Wilson.  Junior Kate Wells scored three goals and assisted on another, and senior Shianne Stokes scored a goal and added three assists to the lead the Express to the win.

Beginning this season, NEAC full members Keuka College, Wells College, Morrisville State and Wilson College became associate members of the NAC and represented the West Division.  NAC members Castleton University, Colby-Sawyer College, Husson University, University of Maine-Farmington, New England College and Thomas (Me.) College made up the East Division.    

Each division conducted regular season competition before holding divisional rounds of the NAC Tournament.  The two divisional champions square off to proclaim an overall champion, who will then earn the NAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship Tournament.   

The two teams didn't meet in the regular season but did have two common opponents.  Both teams had two common opponents, Castleton and New England College (NEC).  Both teams lost to Castleton University (UMF lost 4-2, Wells lost 5-0), UMF beat NEC 6-1 and Wells lost to NEC 2-1. 

With the unknowns, Coach Cyndi Pratt has been able to watch a couple game films to familiarize herself with the Wells team.  "They seem to be a very consistent team that has improved as the season has gone on," she added, "They are playing their best right now and have momentum going into Saturday's game." 

The Express are led by junior Kate Wells (8 goals, 3 assists), freshman Kelly Mason (7 goals, 1 assist) and senior Shianne Stokes (2 goals, 8 assists).  Goalie Kelsey Kokosa is 4-10 with two shutouts this season. 

The Beavers are led by NAC Player of the Year Emmah Spahr (Winthrop, Maine/Winthrop).  Spahr has 19 goals on the season which is tied for the all-time single season record.  Carly Raymond (Topsham, Maine/Mt. Ararat) has scored 9 goals and assisted on 3.  Jenessa Talarico (Lewiston, Maine/Lewiston) has chipped in with 7 goals and 3 assists.  NAC Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year, Patty Smith (Gorham, Maine/Gorham) is 11-4 with five shutouts this season in goal. 

"We need to get off to a good start and play at a fast pace," said Pratt.  "We have to be able to recapture the emotional and physical energy we had against Husson."  Coach Pratt also has communicated to her team that they haven't reached their ultimate goal yet.  "Winning the East was fun but the real goal is to win the NAC.  We can't be satisfied with that (Husson) win, to truly accomplish our goals we have to play even better on Saturday."

 The last time UMF reached the NCAA National Tournament was in 2007.  In that year, they lost to Middlebury 5-1 in the first round.