Saint Michael's holds off AIC, 4-3, in NE-10 opener

Saint Michael's holds off AIC, 4-3, in NE-10 opener

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College field hockey team opened a three-game homestand by fending off American International College, 4-3, on Saturday at Duffy Field during each team's Northeast-10 Conference opener. The Purple Knights improved to 5-3, while the Yellow Jackets are 4-4.

Senior Cassaundra Davis (Newburyport, Mass./Newburyport) and sophomore Abby Dusha (Greenwich, N.Y./Greenwich Central School) both posted a goal and an assist for the hosts, with Dusha's goal the first of her career. By improving her career totals to 67 points and 28 tallies, Davis moved into eighth in program history in goals while slipping into a tie with Kathy O'Neil '81 for ninth in points. Senior Samantha Burns (North Creek, N.Y./Johnsburg Central) and junior Megan Deschaine (Claremont, N.H./Stevens) also scored, and senior Sarah Healey (Canton, Mass./Canton) collected six saves.

First-year Liv Magni (Sweet Valley, Pa./Sweet Valley) had a pair of goals for AIC, senior Jenna Masionis (Ashland, Mass./Ashland) also scored, and junior Ainslee Penfield (Greenfield, Mass./Northfield Mount Hermon) recorded five stops. Classmate Emily Kollar (Leighton, Pa./Leighton Area) contributed a defensive save.

Saint Michael's took the first lead fewer than 10 minutes into the game, as first-year Marjolein Kerstjens (Bilthoven, The Netherlands/Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap) was turned away by Penfield before Davis pounced on the rebound at 9:32. However, Magni countered just 29 seconds later. Soon thereafter, the hosts took the lead for good, as Dusha centered for Deschaine, who hit the bottom left corner at 17:24.

Healey maintained the 2-1 edge by denying Masionis on three different occasions between the 20th and 24th minutes, and Burns extended the lead in the 32nd minute by knocking a cross off of an AIC defender.

Masionis cut her team's deficit to 3-2 in the 50th minute by creating space in the circle and chipping a shot past Healey, but Saint Michael's reestablished its two-goal advantage in the 54th. Davis sent a penalty-corner pass from just inside the circle off of a defender's stick and high above players in the goal mouth, with the ball finding Dusha at the right post. Dusha sent home her first college marker at 53:20.

Davis was stopped by a Kollar defensive save in the 64th minute and by Penfield's left blocker a minute later before Magni again brought AIC within one, this time with 2:18 remaining in regulation. Despite a green card at 1:44 putting the Yellow Jackets down one player, the visitors had a pair of late opportunities, but breakout passes on both chances were too long.

Saint Michael's hosts No. 9 Merrimack College on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. The Warriors are ranked in this week's National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) national poll.