COLLEGE PARK, MD – The third day of the Women’s National Championship in College Park concluded with New Jersey securing the No. 1 spot in Pool A. Pool B is still to be determined with the final match being played tomorrow against Pennsylvania and New England at 4:00pm. The championship event that commenced on June 1 will wrap up on Friday, June 8 with the announcement of the 2012 U.S. Women’s National and Development Squads.
Led by first half goals from Maren Langford (Lewes, DE) and Tara Puffenberger (Dallas, Pa), in addition to a stout defensive effort, the Midwest defeated New England 2-1 to earn their the first victory in the tournament.
The Mid West controlled play from the outset of the match and were quickly rewarded after a seventh minute strike from Langford on a penalty corner. Puffenberger then doubled the Midwest lead at the 32 minute mark, darting through the New England defense to beat the goalkeeper on a diving shot.
“I thought we controlled most of the play and really stayed poised throughout the whole game today,” said coach Tracey Fuchs.
The Midwest will face either California or Mid Atlantic on Wednesday.
Pennsylvania remained undefeated after sliding by the South, 2-1. Goalkeeper Anna Zarkoski (Trooper, Pa) and the Pennsylvania defense thwarted an onslaught of shots by the South to preserve the victory in the game’s final minutes.
Susan Ciufo (Bangor, Pa) opened the scoring for Pennsylvania at the 25 minute mark after connecting on a fantastic run and baseline pass from Jesse Gey (Green Lane, Pa). Marta Malmberg (Marathon, NY) answered ten minutes later for the South, connecting on a penalty corner to even the match 1-1 at halftime.
Pennsylvania retained its lead 11 minutes into the second half when Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa) beat goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer (Robesonia, Pa) for the eventual game-winner.
“I’m very happy to finish with a 2-1 victory over such a strong team,” Zelenak said. “The leadership in the backfield was fantastic and our transition play was very effective. We’re definitely excited to move on to the next game and finish the second half against New England and then onto crossovers.”
Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, VA) scored a goal off a penalty corner after time expired to give the North a 5-4 come from behind victory over California in the third game of the day. The winning goal was the striker’s third of the game and her second hat trick of the tournament. Taylor has tallied a total of seven goals so far, making her the leading goal scorer.
California took control of the game early with Torrie Albini (Escondido, CA) tallying the first goal with a rocket off of a penalty corner. California netted two more goals and held a one goal advantage at the half.
While California was able to tally one late goal, it was Taylor who took over the game for the North team, leading her team to a comeback victory.
“I’d definitely say the corner strike is working for me,” said Taylor. “That’s something I’ve been working on with the National Team and it just seems like it’s coming together.”
In the final game of pool play, New Jersey was able to pull out a 4-3 victory over the Mid Atlantic. All of New Jersey’s scoring came in the first half, with two goals by Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa) opening and closing the scoring. Sharkey’s first goal came early in the first half, flicking the ball past Mid Atlantics goalkeeper. After goals from teammates Nicole Kroener (Morgantown, Pa) and Katie Grant (New York, NY), Sharkey was able to finish off a penalty corner with a hard shot to the right corner.
The second half was a defensive battle with Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa) tallying the only goal for the Mid Atlantic on a second shot opportunity. New Jersey was able to see out the rest of the game with a strong defensive performance, sealing the win and placing it 3-0 in pool play and first going into Wednesday’s crossovers.
“Today was a battle,” said New Jersey coach Kristen Winn. “I think we’ve got pretty good spacing on attack, we’re forcing a lot of decisions from the oppositions midfielders and we’re able to move the ball really well. This game was just about persistence. We kept weathering the storm and we played together.”
Crossover placements will be determined after the Pennsylvania and New England match tomorrow afternoon at 4:00pm.
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.