BIDDEFORD, Maine -- Trailing after an early 2nd-half goal, No.19 University of New England scored twice in the final 14 minutes to overcome Saint Joseph's College (Maine) for a 2-1 victory in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship on Wednesday evening (Nov. 8) at the Big Blue Turf.
Winners of 11 straight, the nationally-ranked Nor'easters (18-4) move on to the second round of the tournament and will play No.2 Middlebury College at Kohn Field in Vermont on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. Interactive Bracket
For the second time in as many games, Brooke Lemerise provided the difference for UNE. With just 1:35 left in regulation, she batted home a bouncing redirection, putting it into the right corner. Vonde Saunders registered the assist, after Brenna Sicard sent the dangerous ball into the circle from the right wing. [Watch]
Saunders accounted for the equalizer in the 57th minute, tracking down a cross from the right side in the heart of the circle and lacing a reverse strike just inside the left post. Kersey Boulay assisted on the tally, which was the team-leading 16th of the season for Saunders. [Watch]
After Lemerise's goal, the Nor'easters ran out the clock to advance to the first weekend of the championship for a fourth consecutive year. It will be the second time UNE heads to face Middlebury; the Panthers defeated Big Blue back in 2014 on the way to the semifinals. The two-time national champions are making their 18th appearance in the tournament.
UNE is now 9-2 all-time against Saint Joseph's. Never before in the previous 10 (played from 2003-12) had either side picked up a result after trailing in the contest.
The Monks end 2017 with a record of 15-6, matching the highest win total in program history.
The 1st half went without any scoring, but SJC didn't waste much of the 2nd period (37th minute) before gaining the edge on the scoreboard. Kayla Kelly carried possession into the circle and a dropped a pass to Libby Pomerleau, who turned and drove her second touch into the left side. It was Pomerleau's 22nd marker of the year.
Due to strong defensive efforts in the middle, quality chances were at a premium for both sides, with just seven of the combined 20 total shots (UNE 13-7) finding the target. The respective goalies -- Liz Sargent of UNE, and Megan Baker for the Monks -- each made two saves.
The Nor'easters wrapped up the night with a 13-1 advantage in penalty corners.
Out of the eight first-round hosts on Wednesday, five needed a comeback to survive and extend their seasons. In all, seven of the teams competing on their home fields were victorious.
Joining UNE at Middlebury on Saturday will be No.14 University of Rochester and Husson University (which pulled an upset of No.5 Babson College, 1-0). The winners will meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.
COURTESY OF UNE SPORTS INFORMATION
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.