Union's Nicole Merigliano broke a 1-1 tie midway through the second half with her first collegiate goal, lifting the Dutchwomen's field hockey team past St. Lawrence by the score of 2-1 on a rainy afternoon at Hall-Leet Stadium in Canton, NY.
The victory gives Union (8-7, 4-3) the No. 4 seed in the 2010 Liberty League Tournament, while the loss eliminates St. Lawrence (5-10, 2-5) from post-season play.
Despite being outshot 10-4 in the opening half, it was the Scarlet and Brown that wasted little time in taking a 1-0 lead. Off the game's first penalty corner, junior Julia Croyle sent a pass to the top of the scoring circle for senior Brooke Maloney. Maloney fired a shot on net that got behind Union keeper Sarah Rios and trickled towards the goal line. Despite Union's defense's best efforts, Croyle rushed to the line and pushed the ball into the cage for her first goal of the season and a 1-0 cushion only 1:19 into regulation.
The Dutchwomen would level the scoring at 1-1 at 21:21. St. Lawrence first-year keeper Nicole Matos was able to make an initial save with her leg pad, but the ball deflected right to Union's Kelsey Powers in front. Powers quickly lifted a shot off her backhand over Matos and into the cage for her 10th goal of the season.
Union would continue to put consistent pressure on Matos, but the Greenwich, CT native was clutch with six saves in the opening half to Rios' two. Her efforts kept the game tied 1-1 at intermission.
St. Lawrence would again jump out early in the second half and create several quality chances on the offensive end. However, shots sailed just wide or never got to Rios, as Union's defense did a nice job of clamping down in the scoring circle.
Union's defensive efforts led to the game-winning goal in transition at 50:35. Powers again got the play started by dribbling through the midfield into the St. Lawrence scoring circle. From there, she sent a crisp pace to Merigliano to Matos' right, and Merigliano one-timed a low shot past the goalie's left leg and into the cage for a 2-1 lead for the visitors.
The Saints would have four penalty corners after falling behind 2-1, but were unable to convert any of their chances. Matos kept her team within striking distance with a big save on a stroke for Union's Tyler Willey. However, Union continued to apply offensive pressure until the final whistle, giving the Dutchmen the final spot in the Liberty League playoffs.
Union closed with a 19-10 advantage in shots, while both teams finished with nine penalty corners each. Matos had 12 saves for the Saints, while Rios closed with four stops for the Dutchwomen.
Following the game, the four seniors on the St. Lawrence University field hockey were honored after playing their final game on North Country Field. The seniors include Maloney, Caitlin Estes, Michelle Laframboise and Kelsey Berry.
St. Lawrence will complete its 2010 season on Wednesday against nationally-ranked #9 Cortland State in Cortland, NY. The game is scheduled to begin at 4:00pm.