NCAA Tournament First Round Preview: Saint Joseph's @ #19 University of New England

STANDISH, Maine – GNAC Champion Saint Joseph's College (15-5, 6-1 GNAC) is set to play at #19 University of New England (17-4, 11-1 CCC) in the first round of the NCAA DIII Field Hockey Tournament at 5:00 PM on Wednesday.

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Second-seeded Saint Joseph's upset #1 Lasell College, 3-0, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship in Newton, Massachusetts on Saturday. With the victory, the Monks claimed their second-consecutive automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

University of New England, the top seed in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat #2 Endicott College in the CCC Championship on Saturday. In doing so, the Nor'easters earned the CCC's automatic berth for the fourth-consecutive season and fifth time in team history.

WHAT WE KNOW

Saint Joseph's:

  • Saint Joseph's ranks among the NCAA DIII leaders in goals against average (0.85, 9th), shutouts per game (0.50, 8th)
  • Since October 1st, the Monks have outscored opponents by an aggregate 30-6 score with a 9-2 record and six shutouts over the last 11 contests
  • The Monks' roster features just two seniors with seven juniors, five sophomores, and seven freshmen

University of New England:

  • UNE ranks 12th nationally in assists per game (2.33), 19th in goals against average (1.03), and 21st in points per game (9.10) and scoring margin (2.16)
  • The Nor'easters are riding a 10-game winning streak and have outscored opponents by a combined 33-5 score during the string
  • The UNE roster features eight seniors, four juniors, four sophomores, and six freshmen

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Saint Joseph's:

  • Sophomore forward Libby Pomerleau (Limerick, Maine), the 2017 GNAC Offensive Player of the Year and two-time First Team All-GNAC honoree, is one of top scorers in the region and leads the team in goals (21), points (47), shots (109), shots on goal (86), and game-winning goals (8)
  • Junior forward Kayla Kelly (York, Maine), a Second Team All-GNAC honoree, is in the midst of a breakout season with 10 goals and three assists for 23 total points
  • Senior defender Hayley Winslow (Falmouth, Maine), the 2017 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, has shown the ability to step forward and has tallied six goals and two assists for 14 points
  • Junior defender and First Team All-Conference honoree Kayla Veilleux (Sabattus, Maine) has three defensive saves

University of New England:

  • Senior forward Vonde Saunders (Center Conway, N.H.), a First Team All-CCC selection, leads the Nor'easters in goals (15) and points (37)
  • Senior midfielder Olivia Madore (Lyman, Maine), a First Team All-CCC choice, paces UNE in assists (8) and ranks second on the squad in goals (10) and points (28)
  • Senior forward Hannah Buckley (Leominster, Mass.), an All-CCC Second Team honoree, has netted 11 goals with three assists for 25 total points
  • Junior Kersey Boulay (Liberty, Maine), the CCC Defensive Player of the Year, has tallied eight goals and five assists with a team-high three defensive saves

KEEPER COMPARISON:

Saint Joseph's: Junior Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine) is 14-5 with eight shutouts and sports a 0.87 goals against average with a .778 save percentage in 1,293 minutes between the pipes. The three-year starter has allowed 16 goals with 56 saves this fall.

University of New England: Freshman Liz Sargent (South Burlington, Vt.) is 17-4 with a 1.05 goals against average and an .810 save percentage across 1540 minutes in net. A Second team All-CCC selection, Sargent has made 98 saves while allowing 23 goals and has eight shutouts to her credit this season.

ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:

Saint Joseph's Head Coach Rupert Lewis, in his 13th season on the SJC sideline, is 156-86 (.645) overall with a 61-11 (.847) record in conference play during his collegiate career. He is far and away the program's most successful skipper and has garnered three Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. When Coach Lewis assumed control of the SJC program in the fall of 2005, he inherited a team that owned a 48-107 (.310) record with one winning season in 10 years as an NCAA DIII varsity sport. In his time at Saint Joseph's, the Monks have enjoyed 11 winning seasons and the program's all-time record now stands two games above .500 (203-194).

University of New England Head Coach Danielle Collins has been the Nor'easters' clipboard carrier since the 2013 season and has compiled an impressive 88-28 (.759) career record, including an otherworldly 57-3 (.950) conference mark, in five seasons. For her efforts, Collins has earned three CCC Coach of the Year honors.

COMMON FOES:

Today's contest will be the 11th meeting between the Monks and Nor'easters with UNE owning an 8-2 record versus the Monks. The last meeting, a 2-0 UNE victory, took place in Biddeford on September 12th, 2012.

The in-state rivals share three common opponents this season: Husson, Gordon, and Wellesley. The Monks suffered 2-1 losses at the hands of Wellesley and Husson and defeated Gordon, 2-1, on October 9th. The Nor'easters clipped Husson, 2-1 in overtime, and handled Wellesley, 6-0, six days later. UNE played CCC foe Gordon College twice and toppled the Fighting Scots by a 15-0 combined score in the pair of meetings.