By Jamie Belfer || Contributing Writer
Coming off a stellar 18-4 record last year as Centennial Conference Champions while reaching the NCAA Final Four, the Franklin & Marshall field hockey team has started the 2018 season on fire. The Diplomats have won their first three games while holding all three of their opponents scoreless. In their season opener on Friday, August 31, as a part of the Connie Harnum Classic, the Diplomats earned a thrilling victory by narrowly defeating Kean University (1-0) in overtime. The Diplomats then travelled to Susquehanna the next day and trumped the River Hawks (3-0) in the championship game.
This past Wednesday, the Diplomats played their home opener at Tylus field against Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham – this being the first meeting between these two teams in field hockey history. Both teams came into the game undefeated with a 2-0 record.
FDU-Florham won the coin flip and started the game off with the ball. Both teams battled for possession in the first 14 minutes. Each offense was stifled by the opposing team’s aggressive defense. Only one shot was attempted before the 14-minute mark by Franklin and Marshall’s leading scorer in the 2017 season, Erin Coverdale.
However, the Diplomats soon began attacking the goal and went on an offensive fury. Although FDU’s goalie, Samantha Rubin, made two great saves off of shots from Katie O’Loughlin and Erin Coverdale, the Red Devils could not stave off Franklin & Marshall’s great passing and shot after an offensive corner in the 19th minute. The Diplomats took advantage of this scoring opportunity. The corner started with a great insert by Katie O’Loughlin, eventually leading to a fantastic shot into the bottom left corner of the goal by Melissa Gula, who was assisted by Emma Durantine.
The Diplomats sent a flurry of shots toward the end of the first half, totaling 9 shots from a combination of 6 different F&M players. Only one shot was taken by FDU in the first half which went wide of the goal.
Starting with the ball at the beginning of the second half, the Diplomats continued their offensive command and maintained possession for the majority of the half. Although the Diplomats took thirteen shots and had fourteen offensive corners, they were ultimately held scoreless by the Red Devils’ defense.
The Diplomat defense continued to be a wall in the backfield, stopping FDU’s advances toward the goal. Their defense, lead by Caitlin Morrissey, Juliana Keagle, Colleen Francis, and Emma Durantine, was ultimately able to hold FDU scoreless in the second half.
Franklin & Marshall goalkeeper, Ilianna Santangelo also played great defense throughout the game. Although the Red Devils only attempted 2 shots in the latter half, Santangelo made one great save, and the strong Diplomat defense blocked the other shot. For her fantastic play in holding F&M’s first two opponents scoreless, Santangelo was named the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Defensive Player of the week.
The Diplomats outshot the Red Hawks 22-3 and outnumbered them 20-1 in penalty corners. Franklin & Marshall came out victorious at the end of the game with a score of 1-0.
The Diplomats look to continue their success as they play at Mary Washington College in Virginia this Saturday, September 8.
(Special thanks to freshman newcomer, Sydney Wieczkowski for ensuring the field hockey terms in this article were correct).