The Sacred Heart University (SHU) field hockey won the Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship on Nov. 5 in a nail biting overtime victory against Wagner by a score of 1-0, securing SHU’s second NEC title in program history.
The first and only goal of the matchup was scored in the 62nd minute of play by senior Isabelle Chamberlin.
“Whilst it was an unbelievable feeling to score the winning goals in both the semi and the final, I couldn’t have done it without the team,” said Chamberlain.
Chamberlain scored the winning goal for the Pioneers two weeks in a row and was named the NEC Championship’s Most Valuable Player as a result of her influential performance.
“As far as I am concerned, every single person scored that goal with me. Our defense specifically soaked up immense pressure and defended Wagner attack after attack,” said Chamberlin. “I was just happy I could do my part and bring it home.”
Freshman Madelyn Kidd assisted on Chamberlin’s game winning goal.
“Watching the ball slam against the back of the cage was an unforgettable moment,” said Kidd. “Winning the championship as a freshman is unbelievable and it has only motivated me more to win it again next year.”
The Pioneers defense also played a key role in the team’s victory. Goalkeeper Samantha Maresca and the Pioneers shut out Wagner across all four quarters and 60 minutes of regulation play, setting up Chamberlin’s overtime game winning goal. Maresca’s stellar performance included 14 saves.
Head coach Sydney Van Der Merwe, who’s been at the helm of SHU field hockey since 2016, reflected on the victory.
“I am very excited and happy for the student-athletes,” said Van Der Merwe. “They have been working hard all season, and in each practice, conditioning, and lift session they have been challenging themselves and their teammates and all their hard work has paid off.”
The team’s next stop after the NEC Title was the NCAA Championship against William & Mary on Nov. 8
The Pioneers succumbed to William & Mary 0-4 in the opening round in the NCAA Championship.
Sophomore Emma Brayford said, “I think this season has been filled with many ups and downs and as a team, we have adjusted to all the craziness that came our way this entire year beautifully and used them to push us to be the best versions of ourselves.”
Van Der Merwe highlighted the values instilled in the team both on and off the field and praised his players for their efforts this season.
“Trust in each other, play for your teammates and yourself, and the name on the jersey. Back yourself on the field and play with confidence,” said Van Der Merwe.
Looking back on the season, Van Der Merwe said, “We have learned from all our games this season, what to do in certain situations and how to handle pressure and win games. I have seen the progression of each player on the team to take themselves and their teammates to the next level.”
Sacred Heart Athletics and Marisa Musacchio contributed to this article.