NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (September 8, 2017) – After opening the season with a pair of 5-0 victories, the Franklin Pierce University field hockey team met a stronger foe on Friday night at Martone-Mejail Field. No. 9 nationally ranked Merrimack was dominant statistically, while dealing the Ravens a 2-0 defeat in non-conference play, behind a goal and an assist from senior midfielder Taylor Simpson. Franklin Pierce senior goalkeeper Meaghan Williams (Salem, N.H.) finished with 14 saves -- one shy of her career high -- in defeat.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 2-1, while Merrimack improves to 2-1. Merrimack held control of the game, to the tune of advantages of 26-6 in shot attempts, 16-5 in shots on goal and 17-3 in penalty corners. Franklin Pierce did not earn its first corner chance until the 69th minute of the 70-minute contest.
Merrimack picked up the only goal it would need on Friday night off of a corner in the eighth minute. The injection came to Simpson at the top of the circle, and she took care of things on her own from there. She pushed forward into the circle, beating one defender, and then cut to the right to elude another. Simpson ultimately put her shot low, back across traffic and tucked it inside the left post for her third goal of the season, an unassisted tally.
The Warriors had a chance to push the lead to 2-0 on a 26th-minute penalty stroke, after the Ravens were whistled for a violation in the goalmouth. Junior midfielder Mary McNeil took the stroke, but put her low shot wide, outside the right post. For what it was worth, it appeared Williams would have had the shot covered and turned it aside had it been on-target.
The Ravens had their best chance of the first half, and arguably the game, shortly after the missed stroke, in the 28th minute. Senior midfielder Erin Smith (Templeton, Mass.) served a long feed into the circle from the right side. Senior forward Carly Canavan (Kingston, N.Y.) was able to corral the ball out in front of the right post and get off a clean shot, but the ball slipped wide, outside the left post.
The other strong chance Franklin Pierce had to equalize came on a rush up the field on the other side of halftime, in the 50th minute. Leading an odd-man rush, senior forward Katlyn Barden (Dayton, Maine) possessed the ball coming up the right side, and had junior forwards Ashley Silva (Laconia, N.H.) and Rachel Lapointe (Greenfield, Mass.) in the circle, with only one defender left to cover the two. Barden had a better angle on the longer pass, which she sent towards Lapointe in the middle, but the ball hopped over the latter's stick and skipped away harmlessly towards the left side, where it ultimately went out of bounds.
The Warriors notched an insurance marker in the 61st minute to push the lead to 2-0. Simpson forced a turnover and sent a long drive towards the cage from the right side of the circle. Senior forward Rylie Hammond was able to get her stick to the ball out front and redirect it home for her third goal of the campaign.
Merrimack had a chance to make it 3-0 in the 61st minute. The Warriors were awarded another penalty stroke, as a member of the Franklin Pierce backline was whistled for using her body to turn aside a shot which was headed for the goal. Simpson took the stroke this time and tried to tuck a slightly elevated shot inside the left post. Williams read the shot well again, however, and swatted the ball from the air to make the save and keep the final score at 2-0.
Williams (2-1) finished with 14 saves against 16 shots on goal in a losing effort in front of the Franklin Pierce cage. Sophomore goalkeeper Katharina Ohmen (2-1) turned aside all five shots on her goal to pick up the win, as well as her first shutout of the season, in net for Merrimack.
The Ravens return to the field on Sunday, Sept. 10, when they travel to Saint Michael's for a non-conference contest. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at Duffy Field in Colchester, Vt.
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). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce field hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).