The University of Scranton field hockey team moved a step closer to locking up a Landmark Conference playoff berth on Saturday, defeating visiting Susquehanna in an exciting contest at Weiss Field, 3-2. The Royals, now 12-3 on the season with a 4-2 mark in conference play, can clinch the #3 seed with a win at Juniata next Saturday.
With one conference game remaining, Scranton currently occupies sole possession of third place, one game ahead of Susquehanna and Juniata, who are now 3-3 in league games. The Rivers Hawks close the season next Saturday against Drew in the other game that will determine playoff qualifiers.
Prior to Saturday's contest, Scranton honored the team's five seniors: Julie Burrill (New City, N.Y./Clarkstown South), Erin Dolphin (Orangeburg, N.Y./Pearl River), Katherine McVeagh (Flourtown, Pa./Springfield Township), Cyan Scarduzio (Ossining, N.Y./Ossining), and Elizabeth Tolley (Brookside, N.J./West Morris Mendham).
The Royals came out strong after the ceremony, taking a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest when junior Gracie McClatchy (Havertown, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) punched home a shot after collecting her own rebound.
Scranton doubles its lead in the 25th minute in the 25th minute when junior Brianna Witt (Sloatsburg, N.Y./Suffern) netted her second goal of the season, deflecting a long crossing pass driven into the circle by freshman Allie Benadon (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough), who picked up her fourth assist of the season on the tally.
Susquehanna (8-8, 3-3 Landmark) trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the 31st minute with a goal on a penalty corner, but McClatchy restored the Royals' two-goal advantage just 35 seconds before halftime, collecting a feed by sophomore Megan Gallagher (Thorndale, Pa./Bishop Shanahan) from the right side and firing home her second goal of the game.
McClatchy's tally was her Landmark Conference-leading 15th of the season while Gallagher's assist was her sixth of the fall.
Following the halftime break, the River Hawks made it a one-goal game just over six and a half minutes into the second half by scoring from close range.
Both team's had chances to add to the scoring over the final 28 and a half minutes as Scranton was denied by a pair of defensive saves by the River Hawks while, at the other end, Susquehanna fired a shot off the post and sophomore Jenna Cyr (Coopersburg, Pa./Southern Lehigh) made a spectacular diving save with 10 and a half minutes remaining to preserve the 3-2 lead for the hosts.
Scranton held an 18-12 advantage in shots from the game while Susquehanna claimed a 9-6 edge in penalty corners on the afternoon.
Cyr finished with six saves to post her 10th victory of the season for the Royals.
Scranton returns to the field on Wednesday when it hosts Vassar in the team's final non-conference game of the regular season starting at 7 p.m. on Weiss Field.