SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With three games remaining in the regular season, the Bryant University women's field hockey team kick off a pivotal weekend tonight, hosting Northeast Conference rival Sacred Heart in a Friday night battle at the Turf Complex.
Before the game, the program will acknowledge its five seniors in a special ceremony, as seniors Katherine Andrusin, Emily Charpentier, Jennifer Gullotti, Courtney Landi and Karlie Tiscia will all be honored on the field before their final contest played on their home turf with the Black and Gold.
The weekend could not have bigger implications for the Bulldogs (7-8, 1-3 NEC), who currently are on the outside of the four-team playoff field for the NEC Tournament. Bryant will have a chance to even its conference record and get a key victory over the team that currently resides in fourth place when it wraps up the weekend at Quinnipiac on Sunday afternoon.
Before Sunday, though, Bryant will first welcome the Pioneers (4-11, 1-3) tonight. Sacred Heart comes into Smithfield as losers of its last two, five of its last six and seven of its last nine games. The Pioneers' 1.46 scoring average ranks seventh in the conference, with 22 total goals in 15 games.
Last weekend, Sacred Heart dropped a pair of games to conference leaders Rider (4-0) and Monmouth (1-0). Goalkeeper Kim Stow made a whopping 35 saves combined through both games, but the Pioneers' offense was kept out of the cage in both contests. Stow's 7.8 saves per game rank third in the conference.
Two players boast double-digit scoring figures for the Pioneers, as Kate Boyd and Hannah Robinson have paced the Sacred Heart offense this season. Boyd leads the team with six assists, and also has found the back of the cage three times for a team-leading 12 points. Robinson, meanwhile, has scored a team-high four goals while adding two assists for 10 total points. Three other players have tallied three goals for the Pioneers, as well.
Between the pipes, Stow has started all 15 games for Sacred Heart, totaling 1004:36 in net while holding a 3.27 goals against average. Her 122 total saves rank third in the NEC.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs will trek down to Hamden, Conn., taking on the Bobcats (8-7, 2-2) in arguably their biggest game of the season pending the result of tonight's match. Like Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac also lost against Monmouth and Rider last weekend. The Hawks earned a tight 3-2 victory on Oct. 14 before Rider cruised to a 5-1 win two days later. Quinnipiac, however, holds an impressive 6-1 record at home.
Kaitlyn Notarianni scored twice in the loss against Monmouth, pushing her gogal-total to seven on the season. Her 19 total points (7-5—19) trails Kimberly Cunniff and Jess Rusin, who both have eclipsed the 20-point mark for the Bobcats. Both have tallied 10 goals, with Cunniff – who scored the only goal against Rider last weekend - also dishing out three assists for a 23-point total. Rusin, meanwhile, has dished out one helper for 21 total points. Nicole Lewis has started all 15 games in net posting a 2.97 GAA to go with a .751 save percentage.