COLLEGE PARK, MD – The top field hockey athletes in the country took the field for the first day of the Women’s National Championship in College Park, MD. The week long battle will crown one team Regional Champions. More importantly, U.S. Women’s Head Coach Lee Bodimeade will name roughly two dozen athletes to the National Squad.
Reigning champions, New Jersey, unleashed an offensive barrage against the North, scoring three first half goals en route to a decisive 7-0 victory in the opening match of the tournament. Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa), leading goal scorer at the 2011 Women’s National Championship scored a hat trick in the first half and added one more goal before the end of the match.
“I’m trying to finish every opportunity and help New Jersey to another championship title,” said Sharkey. “Today I focused on the ball and was able to put it in the cage. I have been working on goal scoring a lot with the National Team in Chula Vista and am feeling confident with my shooting.”
Along with Sharkey, Michelle Cesan (New Vernon, NJ), Amber Youtz (Dauphin, Pa) and Teresa Benvenuti (Morristown, NJ) all scored a goal to help New Jersey to a shut out victory over the North. New Jersey faces California tomorrow at 4:00pm.
Katie O’Donnell’s (Blue Bell, Pa) hat trick led Mid Atlantic to a 7-3 win over California. The first half was a scoring fest as both teams were on the scoreboard in the first 11 minutes of play. California scored two quick goals, but Mid Atlantic fought back to tie the match 2-2 at the 15 minute mark and take a two goal lead by the end of the first half.
Mid Atlantic pulled away in the second half and continued their scoring streak, tallying three more goals before finishing with a 7-3 commanding victory. Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa) and Katie Gerzabek (Springfield, Pa) both notched a goal in the first half and another in the second half.
“California came out really strong today, scoring two goals right off the bat,” said O’Donnell. “Our team stayed really calm and was able to pull it out. We were up 4-2 at half time and were able to score two quick goals right off the bat in the second half. Later, we brought it up 7-2 and then California came back at the very end and knocked one in. We really wanted to work on our goal differentials today, so we didn’t exactly do well goal-differential-wise but a win is definitely still helpful for our results.”
“We got off to a really rough start, obviously,” said Coach Steve Jennings. “I think that was to the credit of California. They were really ready to go and scored two quick goals before we really knew what was happening. I think that we kept our composure and once we got into some good patterns we were able to put ourselves into scoring position. I think we did a good job taking the momentum of the game and carrying it into half time.. The second half was really dynamic for us, scoring two goals in the first five minutes. We need to be better at refining our defensive structure and being better at responding right off the bat. Hopefully, we’ll be able to work on that for next time.”
Mid Atlantic will take on the North at 2:00pm tomorrow.
The South and Midwest fought hard for scoring opportunities in the first half of their afternoon match. Maren Langford’s (Lewes, DE) goal for the Midwest in the 6 minute was the only goal conceived in the first half. Despite a one goal advantage heading into the second half, it was the South who walked away with 4-2 victory.
Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, NC) tied the match in the 47 minute on a penalty stroke. Teammates Loren Shealy (Charlotte, NC) and Kelsey Kolojejchick (Larksville, Pa) contributed one goal apiece and Kasold posted a second and final goal in the 66 minute to seal the win. The South will play New England tomorrow under the lights at 8:00pm.
The inclement weather that was anticipated did not hold off for the final match of the day. Pennsylvania and New England took the field but the game was postponed midway through the first half due to lightning strikes nearby the field hockey and lacrosse complex. Kara Mackintire (Shrewsbury, MA) put New England on the boards before the game was suspended.
The match resumed roughly 30 minutes later and the remainder of the first half was played. However, coming out of halftime, lighting struck again and the decision was made to reschedule the match for Tuesday, June 5 at 3:00pm. Pennsylvania faces Midwest tomorrow at 6:00pm.
Admission is free and open to the public. All matches will be held at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex on the University of Maryland campus. News, schedule and results and further information can be found on usafieldhockey.com.