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Field Hockey Suffers Tough Conference Postseason Set-Back

(Posted November 3, 2004)

Senior goalkeeper Melonie Sappe\' posted eight saves in regulation in Juniata\'s conference semifinal match against Lebanon Valley.

Lebanon Valley 2, Juniata 1 (Penalty Strokes)

Huntingdon, Pa. ? For the second time this season a field hockey match between Juniata College and Lebanon Valley College was decided by a penalty stroke shootout, but this time Juniata came out on the short end falling 2-1 to the Flying Dutchmen in Commonwealth Conference Semifinal in Huntingdon Wednesday afternoon. The third-seed Flying Dutchmen will now move on to play top-seed Messiah College in Grantham on Saturday. Juniata, which fell to 14-4 with the loss, will now have to wait and see whether the team earns an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III field hockey tournament. Lebanon Valley improved its record to 15-6 with the win.

After 100 minutes of field hockey through two regulations and a pair of sudden death overtime periods that had the two teams tied at one, the match was decided in a penalty stroke shootout. In the first set of five penalty strokes, both teams had its first three strokes saved. Lebanon Valley?s Kym Weed finally broke through giving the visitors a 1-0 advantage. Juniata sophomore Sierra Dickman (Foxcroft School/Marshall, Va.) answered with a successful stroke to knot the shootout at one. After Juniata keeper Melonie Sappe? (Dallas/Shavertown) stopped Lebanon Valley?s fifth stroke, Juniata?s Kim Wagner (Middletown/Middletown) had her game-winning attempt ring off the post to send the match into a second shootout period.

The Flying Dutchmen took advantage of the opening as they hit their first three strokes with a successful attempt from Amy Saponsky sealing the win.

For much of the match it appeared as though an overtime session would not be necessary as the Flying Dutchmen came out aggressive early and took control of the match. A penalty corner just three minutes into the match provided the visitors with an opportunity and Steph Marguglio capitalized knocking in the first goal of the game. Erin Behney was credited with an assist on the goal that put Lebanon Valley in front 1-0.

The match would even out the rest of the way as each team had ample opportunity to score. The Eagles in particular were strong in the second half as they pushed for the equalizer. The tying goal came off Juniata?s own penalty corner as Elise Zimmerman (Cumberland Valley/Boiling Springs) found Wagner open to the right of the goal and Wagner promptly knocked in the game-tying score.

Both keepers saw plenty of action throughout regulation and in both overtime periods as each team tried to take advantage of its opportunity. Lebanon Valley had its best chance mid-way through the first half when Sappe? stopped a penalty stroke that would have given the Flying Dutchmen a 2-0 lead.

Juniata pressured Lebanon Valley keeper Katie Pawlewicz early in the overtime as Juniata pressured but could not get off a clean shot at the cage. Pawlewicz finished with five saves in the match, while Sappe? made eight saves prior to the shootout session.

The match marked the third time this season Juniata has had a match extended to a penalty stroke session to decide the winner. The Eagles were 2-0 in the previous penalty shootouts.

Juniata, which was ranked ninth in the nation in the most recent STX/NFHCA Division III Poll, will now hope that its 14-3 regular-season record and 6-1 mark in conference play will be good enough to earn the program?s first trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.