Senior Grace O'Neil made "Senior Day" for St. Lawrence University's field hockey team a special one on Saturday as she scored one goal and assisted on another as the Saints upset nationally 14th ranked Rochester 3-1 in a Liberty League field hockey game on North Country Field.
The Saints, 6-9 overall and 2-4 in league play had to settle for being spoilers in the Liberty League race, knocking Rochester, 13-4, 4-2, out of a chance to tie for the top spot in the league. Rochester's loss, coupled with a Skidmore win over William Smith, gave Skidmore the regular season title with Rochester edging William Smith for second and Vassar finishing fourth at 3-3.
Saturday's win was one of the most complete games of the season for the Saints, who received a strong defensive effort to back another solid performance by senior goalkeeper Nicole Matos. Matos finished with nine saves with the only Rochester goal coming on Katie Flaschner's penalty stroke after the Saints had built a 3-0 lead.
SLU scored the only goal of the first half as O'Neil opened the scoring with her third of the season, putting a rebound back past Rochester goalie Tara Lamberti after an initial shot by Kara Pelosi 26:17 into the game.
Sophomore Lizzy Saward finished off a great passing play started by Pelosi, who sent the ball to senior Kate Higgins in the circle and Higgins in turn sent it to the goal mouth where Saward directed it past Lamberti for her seventh of the season 1:03 into the second half. It went to 3-0 at 43:47 when O'Neil slid a pass across the front of the goal mouth and junior Erica French swept the ball inside the far post for her third of the year.
Rochester pressured late, getting eight of its 15 penalty corners in the second half with nine of its 11 second half shots coming in the final 10 minutes of the game. Flaschner's penalty stroke came after Matos covered the ball in a scramble in front and the Rochester senior scored her seventh of the year on a flip shot which eluded the Saint goaltender with 7:20 to play in the game.
Rochester finished with a 20-19 edge in shots on goal and had a 15-8 advantage in penalty corners. Matos finished with nine saves for the Saints while Lamberti had four saves and Sayaka Abe made a defensive save for Rochester.
The Saints continue a string of games against nationally ranked teams when they host Cortland, currently 16th, Tuesday at 4 p.m.