PHILADELPHIA, Pa., Nov. 3, 2012 – Northeastern forward Nicky Graham scored on a penalty corner with less than six minutes left in regulation to lift second-seeded NU to a 3-2 win over the third-seeded James Madison field hockey team in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies improve to 14-5 overall and advance to Sunday’s title game where it meets top-seed Drexel. The Dukes finish their season with an 11-8 record.
The game-winning goal came in the 65th minute after NU won a penalty corner. Forward Lindsay Bennett inserted the ball to the top of the scoring area. CAA Player of the Year Crystal Poland faked a shot and instead slipped a pass to the right side where Graham collected ball and slid a shot into the far corner for her third goal of the season.
Graham was joined on the scoreboard by Bennett while Poland and midfielder Caroline Judge collected one assist each. Northeastern’s third goal was credit to the team on an own goal by Madison. Poland led all players with six shots, including three on goal while CAA Rookie of the Year Deirdre Duke had four shots, all of which were on goal.
The Dukes got a pair of unassisted goals from senior midfielder Jenna Taylor (Midlothian, Va./James River) and redshirt junior forward Rachel Wein (Perryville, Md./Perryville). Senior forward Courtney Versfeld (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe/Dominican Convent) led the way with three shots, including two on goal.
Lizzie Priest earned the win in goal for Northeastern as she made five saves in 70 minutes of action. She improved to 14-5 on the season while limiting her opponent to just two goals.
Freshman goalkeeper Lena Wimmert (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany/Lise-Meitner Gymnasium) made 10 saves in the loss for JMU. She dropped to 11-8 on the season, allowing three goals on 13 shots.
The Huskies outshot the Dukes 18-10 for the game and held an 8-4 margin in penalty corners. JMU led 10-5 in saves, including an 8-1 advantage in the first half.
NU struck for the game’s first goal just 2 minutes, 1 second into the game. Bennett received a pass from Judge on the right side of the goal and knocked it by Wimmert for her fifth goal of the season.
Madison came back to tie the score in the 7th minute. The Dukes won a penalty corner and after the initial shot was blocked, the ball bounced around to the left side of the net where Taylor found it. Her diving shot found its way past Priest and into the corner of the goal for her first goal of the season and the fourth of her career.
Nearly 18 minutes later, the Huskies retook the lead on a JMU own goal. Judge sent a shot from outside the scoring area that Wimmert went to kick away. The ball hopped up on her and deflected off her foot and into the net to put NU up 2-1.
The score remained that way until JMU tied the score in the 58th minute. Redshirt junior back Sam Smiertka (Townsend, Del./St. Thomas More) dribbled the ball down the left side and slipped a beautiful backdoor pass to sophomore forward Rachel Palumbo (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley). Palumbo sent a centering pass that was tipped a way by Priest. A diving shot by sophomore forward Bethany Ashworth (Lititz, Pa./Warwick) was blocked, but Wein found the rebound and knocked it into an open net for her team-leading eighth goal of the season.
The CAA Championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Buckley Field on the campus of Drexel University on Sunday.
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