UD Field Hockey wins CAA tournament, advances to NCAA tournament
BY Managing Sports Editor
AND , Staff Reporter
Delaware field hockey’s dominance over the Colonial Athletics Association (CAA) continued as they defeated James Madison (JMU) 5-3 and Northeastern 2-1 to win the conference tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament.
Junior forward Lotte de Koning got the scoring against JMU going early with a goal in the first six and a half minutes off a penalty corner. She added two more goals in the second quarter, giving her a hat trick, and helped the Blue Hens go up 3-0 at halftime.
JMU would not give up, however, as it had five shots in the third quarter to Delaware’s zero, scoring two goals in the first 12 minutes of the half to cut the deficit to one.
However, Delaware was in attack mode in the final quarter, firing off 10 shots. Senior forward Ally Pollak tapped the ball in from three yards out with 51:48 gone in the game. A minute later, de Koning knocked in another goal off a penalty corner, giving her four goals on the day.
“The team just played well together, that’s always nice for an individual to play well,” de Koning said. “I think we played well together, we got corners which was nice, our corners percentage was really high today. We’ve been working really hard on those so it;s nice to see that our hard work is paying off.”
JMU quickly raced down the field and scored in 16 seconds. JMU did not get another chance the rest of the game, and the Blue Hens hung on to reach their seventh straight CAA Championship game.
“All those other numbers were in the past,” Head Coach Rolf van de Kerkhof said about his team reaching it’s seventh straight CAA Championship game. “It’s great, it shows that we are as a program dominating our conference. It’s not all about dominating our conference, it’s [about] finding ways to get into the NCAA Tournament and then see if we can match up with other programs there.”
De Koning’s four goals were a season-high, bringing her total up to seven on the year. Overall, Delaware got off 16 shots (12 on goal) and held JMU to nine (seven on goal). The Blue Hens had seven corners to the Dukes’ eight and four saves to the Dukes’ seven.
“We found a way to win it,” van de Kerkhof said. “Ugly game, but a win is a win and we are excited to advance to the championship game on Sunday.”
The Blue Hens were hungry on Sunday, as last year they suffered a crushing 3-2 overtime heartbreaker against William and Mary in the CAA Championship game. The loss broke their streak of 25 straight CAA regular season and tournament wins. There is no doubt that the team has not forgotten that game.
“Shame on us,” van de Kerkhof said what he told his team after last year’s loss in the championship game. “Let’s go and not have this happen to us again. So I think everybody is focused on Sunday, when Sunday come around to take care of business, because we know better now.”
The Blue Hens went on to win their sixth CAA Championship in seven years on Sunday when they defeated Northeastern. Van de Kerkhof talked about the accomplishment and said, “It’s great that six out of seven means I’ve been fortunate to be part of a great group of players and coaches. That has put ourselves in a position to win and keep winning for all these years.”
Lotte de Koning was named 2019 CAA Field Hockey Championship Most Outstanding Player with her five goals and one assist in two games.
Emily Kresho, Grace Hoepfner and Femke Strien were all honored as the 2019 CAA Field Hockey All-Tournament Team. Strien scored the deciding goal against when she scored in the first quarter which gave the team a 2-0 lead.
With the win, Blue Hens will now play in the NCAA Tournament where they will play the Virginia Cavaliers in the first round on Friday, Nov. 15.
“At the end, you play for going to the NCAA Tournament,” Coach van de Kerkhof said. “To send the Blue Hens back to the NCAA Tournament, it’s amazing.”