Field hockey takes Springfield, wins NEWMACs

Mackey and Wharton dominate in team’s 6-3 victory over No. 4 Springfield College

Sophomore Caitlin A. Mackey scored two first-half goals and tacked on an assist while tournament Most Outstanding Player junior Madeline L. Wharton added a goal helping second-seeded MIT claim the 2012 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Field Hockey Championship with a 6-3 win over fourth-seeded Springfield College on Sunday afternoon at MacDowell Field.

With their 12th consecutive victory, the Engineers (17-2) won their second straight NEWMAC title and third in four years, while claiming an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Springfield, playing in its first conference championship game since falling to MIT in 2009, finished the season at 10-10.

The Engineers got off to a quick start with six shots in the opening four and a half minutes. Mackey had a shot saved off the goal line by Springfield senior Jenn Califano just 2:41 in, and Pride freshman goalkeeper Timarie Villa made three early saves before Mackey knocked home the rebound of junior Erin B. Kenney’s blast to go up 1-0 at the 4:35 mark.

Springfield wasted little time in tying the game as junior Kelly Gallo scored her team-best 15th goal of the season just 8:54 into the game. Senior Meghan McHugh carried the ball inside the arc on the right side of the field and hit a long pass to freshman Katie Gill near the left post. Gill couldn’t get a shot off, but found Gallo in front of the cage, who hit a sweeping shot inside the right post.

Just under three minutes later MIT regained the lead when Molly K. Duffy ’14 notched her 17th goal of the season off an assist from Mackey. Kimberly A. Barker ‘13 started the play with a penalty corner, and after swinging the ball around the top of the arc, Wharton hit Mackey, who found Duffy in front for the score.

The Engineers, who held a 14-6 advantage in first half shots, pushed their advantage to 3-1 when Mackey scored her second goal of the day at 25:48. Barker again got the play started, playing a short corner to Elizabeth A. Dethy ’15 who found Mackey in front. MIT goalkeeper Jenna R. Klein ’15 made two late saves on McHugh and senior Kayla Sokol to maintain a two-goal lead at halftime.

The early stages of the second half were a defensive battle until MIT increased its margin in the 50th minute. Barker collected her 15th goal of the season, tipping home a pass from Duffy to take a commanding 4-1 lead before a flurry of scoring occurred in the game’s final eight minutes.

After missing a scoring opportunity on a penalty stroke, the Pride cut the deficit to 4-2 when freshman Libby Hart knocked home a rebound at the left post with 8:02 remaining. MIT responded with Wharton blasting home a loose ball from 10 yards out for her ninth goal of the season to go back up 5-2 with 6:06 to go. Gallo again drew Springfield within two when she tipped in a rebound following a scramble at the 65:25 mark, but Morgan E. Gulliver ’16 helped seal the game with her eighth goal of the season, tipping home a deflection with just 3:46 to go to match the Engineers’ biggest lead of the day at 6-3.

Klein made six of her eight saves in the second half for MIT while Villa finished with seven stops for Springfield. The Engineers held a 22-18 advantage in shots, including a slim 13-11 advantage in shots on goal, and took 15 of the game’s 26 penalty corners.