October 25, 2011

Field Hockey Opens Postseason Under the Lights Against Stonehill on Wednesday Night

Ravens host Skyhawks at 6 p.m.

Jaksina Kim Jaksina and the Ravens open their third postseason appearance in four years against Stonehill at Sodexo Field on Wednesday night.

RINDGE, N.H. (October 25, 2011) – The third-seeded Franklin Pierce University field hockey team opens play in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Wednesday night, when it hosts sixth-seeded Stonehill at 6 p.m. at Sodexo Field in a quarterfinal contest.

In Wednesday's other quarterfinal tilt, fourth-seeded Bentley (9-8, 6-4 Northeast-10) will host fifth-seeded American International (11-7, 6-4 Northeast-10) at 7 p.m. in Waltham, Mass.

The winner of the game between Franklin Pierce (10-8, 7-3 Northeast-10) and Stonehill (9-9, 4-6 Northeast-10) will take on second-seeded Massachusetts Lowell (15-3, 9-1 Northeast-10) in the first semifinal at 4 p.m. on Friday, while the Bentley/American International winner will square off with top-seeded Merrimack (16-1, 10-0 Northeast-10). The semifinal winners will meet for the Northeast-10 title at noon on Sunday. Both semifinals and the final will be hosted by Merrimack at Martone-Mejail Field in North Andover, Mass.

Per Northeast-10 policy, ticket prices for Wednesday's quarterfinal, as well as each day during the Championship, will be $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and children, and $1 for students of Northeast-10 institutions (with a valid ID). On Wednesday in Rindge, the first 100 Franklin Pierce students with their ID will be admitted free of charge, courtesy of the Department of Athletics.

Wednesday night's contest will be broadcast on WFPC-LP 105.3 FM and streamed online at http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu.

Picked to finish eighth in the Northeast-10, despite finishing in a three-way tie for fourth a year ago, Franklin Pierce has stormed to the third seed and rides a program-record, five-game winning streak into the postseason. The third-place finish is the highest in school history. It is the culmination of four years' worth of work by a seven-player senior class which has won more games than any other class in school history and is now the program's first class to make three postseason appearances, after qualifying in their freshman and junior campaigns as well.

In five previous Northeast-10 Championship appearances (2010, 2008, 2001, 2000), the Ravens have fallen in the quarterfinal round each time, most recently suffering a 2-1 setback at American International a year ago. It is the second time the team has hosted a quarterfinal game in the tournament, as Franklin Pierce captured the fourth seed and suffered a 2-1 loss to fifth-seeded Bryant at The Winchendon School in its first trip to the postseason in 2000. However, that game occurred four years before the existence of Sodexo Field, and the Ravens played off campus at the time, making Wednesday's contest the first-ever field hockey postseason game in Rindge. A win on Wednesday would tie the 2000 squad for the most wins in school history.

Senior forward Tia Levins (Manchester, Maine) has 36 points on 17 goals and two assists to lead a Franklin Pierce offense that is tied for fourth in the Northeast-10 in goals per game (2.3). The Ravens have seen nearly every meaningful offensive record in school history fall this season, as Levins has set new single-season records for goals and assists, while junior midfielder Megan Bird (Laconia, N.H.) set a new high-water mark with eight assists. Levins also owns the school's career records for goals (34) and points (73), while senior forward Danielle Dolan (West Brookfield, Mass.) holds the record for career assists (14).

Juszczyk Alyssa Juszczyk joins Haight on a backline that allows the fourth-fewest shots on goal in the Northeast-10.

The defense is led by senior tri-captain back Beth Haight (Hamlin, N.Y.), who was a three-time Northeast-10 Defensive Player of the Week selection in 2011. As a team, the Ravens rank fourth in the Conference in fewest shots on goal allowed per game (8) and force a higher percentage of shot attempts off-target (47.64%) than all but Merrimack (48.21%) and Massachusetts Lowell (52.91%). Between the pipes, senior goalkeeper Brittany Nyzio (Attleboro, Mass.) has gone 9-6 to match the school record for wins in a season, and owns the program's career records for wins (25) and shutouts (9). Currently at 1.94, Nyzio is looking to finish each of her three seasons in Rindge with a goals-against average under 2.00, and will be the first goalie to finish her career with the Ravens with such a mark, as her current career goals-against average is 1.62.

Franklin Pierce and Stonehill have met once previously in the Northeast-10 Championship, in a quarterfinal contest at Stonehill on Oct. 24, 2001. Stonehill came away with a 2-1 victory in that game, behind an overtime winner by Julie Aresco just 43 seconds into overtime. Stephanie Bradley scored a first-half goal for Franklin Pierce. Stonehill would, in turn, be done in by Saint Michael's, 1-0 in overtime, in the semifinal.

The runner-up in each of the last two seasons, as well as in 2006, Stonehill shared its only Northeast-10 title with Massachusetts Lowell in 2005, after the championship game was marred by timing difficulties. Last season, the Skyhawks entered the Northeast-10 Championship as the second seed and defeated American International in overtime, 2-1, in the semifinal, before falling to Lowell, 6-1, in the title game. The last time Stonehill played in the quarterfinal round was in 2008, when the fourth-seeded Skyhawks slipped past fifth-seeded Saint Michael's, 3-2, in overtime.

Overall, Stonehill is 8-11 over 12 trips to the Northeast-10 Championship, reaching the title game on four occasions. The Skyhawks are 3-4 when playing in the quarterfinal round. Interestingly, each of Stonehill's last four quarterfinal games were played against Saint Michael's.

As a team, Stonehill is tied for seventh in the Northeast-10 offensively at 1.8 goals per game, while posting a team goals-against average of 2.64, which is also tied for seventh in the Conference. Senior forward Kathryn Nelson (12 goals, 5 assists, 29 points) and freshman forward Jennifer Foley (9-4-22) lead the Stonehill offense, while freshman goalkeeper Elizabeth Genovese has seen a majority of the minutes in front of the cage. She is 6-6 with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .685 save percentage (63 saves, 92 shots on goal) heading into Wednesday night's game.

Though there are no automatic bids to the NCAA Championship at stake, the winner of this week's tournament will significantly boost their chances of being selected as one of the North Region's three bids. Last season, Massachusetts Lowell captured the Northeast-10 Championship and continued on to win the national title.

Northeast-10 Conference Field Hockey Championship
(Seeds in parentheses)

Wednesday, October 25
Quarterfinals
Game 1: (6) Stonehill at (3) Franklin Pierce - 6 p.m.
Game 2: (5) American International at (4) Bentley - 7 p.m.

Remainder of tournament hosted by Merrimack College
Martone-Mejail Field (North Andover, Mass.)

Friday, October 27
Semifinals
Game 3: Game 1 Winner vs. (2) Massachusetts Lowell - 4 p.m.
Game 4: Game 2 Winner at (1) Merrimack - 7 p.m.

Sunday, October 29
Final
Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner - Noon

For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics).