November 3, 2012

Engineers Top Wellesley, Advance to NEWMAC Championship

BABSON PARK, Mass. – Behind the strength of a first-half goal from senior Molly Duffy (New Providence, N.J.) and freshman Morgan Gulliver's (Stamford, Conn.) tally early in the second half, second-seeded MIT turned back No. 3 Wellesley College, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon in a NEWMAC field hockey tournament semifinal at MacDowell Field. With the win, the nationally-ranked No. 20 Engineers (16-2) will be taking on No. 4 seed Springfield College in the championship game slated for 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. The showdown will be a rematch of the 2009 title game which MIT won, 4-2.

In a battle featuring the conference's two top defensive teams, scoring opportunities were at a premium throughout the first half. Wellesley's best chance in the opening stanza came just under eight minutes into the game as sophomore Meghan Peterson (Glastonbury, Conn.) hit a hard blast from the top of the arc off junior Kaitlyn Kirkaldy's (Middlebury, Vt.) penalty corner insert, but was denied by Engineers' sophomore goalkeeper Jenna Klein (Parma, Ohio). Sophomore Nathalie Gruet (Acton, Mass) got to the rebound but was again denied by Klein, keeping the game scoreless.

Just under two minutes later Duffy broke free inside the 25-yard line but Wellesley junior goalkeeper Brit Mscisz (Topsfield, Mass.) came charging off her line to block the shot attempt. Six minutes later, Mscisz blocked senior Molly McShane's (Lake Bluff, Ill.) shot off a centering pass at the 15:09 mark to keep MIT off the board.

The Engineers broke through late in the first half as Duffy knocked home her team-leading 17th goal of the season. Following a penalty corner, MIT maintained possession and after a scramble to gain control of the ball in front of the net, senior Kimberly Barker (Camden, N.Y.) got a stick on the loose ball, directing it to Duffy for the finish and a 1-0 lead with 7:04 left half.

Wellesley had an opportunity to draw even just over eight minutes into the second stanza as sophomore Lallie Lukens (Dakar, Senegal) hit a shot from just inside 10 yards that was deflected by Klein, and poked out of harm's way by MIT junior Michelle Teplensky (Somers, N.Y.) to remain ahead. Minutes later the Engineers capitalized on their best opportunity of the half, as Gulliver scored her seventh goal of the season to push their advantage to 2-0.

The play started with freshman Isabella DiDio (Jenkintown, Pa.) taking a penalty corner from the right side of the field. Following the insert, junior Maddy Wharton (Swarthmore, Pa.) swung a pass from the top of the arc to McShane on the left flank, who sent a strike to the front of the net where Gulliver redirected the ball past Msiscz in the 47th minute.

Klein would make the lead stand up for the Engineers, denying Kirkaldy from close range at 55:47, and senior Allison Robbins (Bennington, Vt.) exactly five minutes later on her blast from just inside the top of the arc off a penalty corner.

Wellesley ended the shutout with 30 seconds left in regulation, as senior Emily Lewis (Weston, Conn.) collected a loose ball in front of the cage and beat Klein for a team-high 15th goal of the season to cut the MIT lead to 2-1, but it would be its final scoring opportunity of the day.

Klein and Mscisz both made five saves on the afternoon while both squads were awarded eight penalty corners. MIT finished the day with a 15-11 advantage in shots.

Release Courtesy of Babson College Sports Information