PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Regis College battled rainy conditions and the pressure of a must-win situation, taking the early lead, scoring an insurance goal early in the final period, and then holding on for a 4-2 victory over Johnson & Wales University Wednesday evening in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference field hockey match at the SMG Athletic Complex.
With the victory, Regis College qualifies for the GNAC Tournament for the first time since joining the league in 2017. The Pride will be the fifth seed in the tournament and will head to Anna Maria College to face the AMCATS in a first round contest Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m.
After close to eight minutes without any shots, Johnson & Wales earned the first scoring chances, with their best opportunity coming in the 11th minute off a penalty corner, but Jillian Miele's shot sailed wide.
Despite playing one person down after a green card, Regis created its own penalty corner opportunity in the 12th minute. Joslyn O'Brien's (Petersham, Mass.) shot was stopped by Wildcat goalie Grace Pendergast, but Ashley Chipman (Stoughton, Mass.) picked up the rebound and converted on the follow-up attempt to give the Pride the early lead.
The Pride started controlling the play as the first period wound down, but Pendergast was able to turn away shots by Sidney Lowe (Lancaster, Mass.) and Sheridan Blaha (Waltham, Mass.). One minute into the second period, Blaha was successful on a shot for her 16th goal of the season, increasing the Regis advantage to 2-0.
Less than two minutes later, Jamie Juskiewicz (Gorham, Maine) was able to find the bottom corner of the goal with a long shot, putting the Pride ahead 3-0. Johnson & Wales finally regained control of the possession late in the second period, as Miele and Mackenzie Wolf peppered the Regis defense with shots, but Hope Winkin (Winslow, Maine) made five saves without allowing a goal in the final three minutes of the period, keeping her team on top heading into halftime.
Johnson & Wales (6-12, 4-4 GNAC) drew a penalty corner just over four minutes into the third period, and Miele fed Alaina Nardslico with a return pass, which Nardslico redirected into the net to put the Wildcats on the board. Five minutes later, Miele sent a shot that deflected off a Regis defender into the goal to bring the Wildcats within one.
Regis had a chance to extend the lead back to two late in the third period, but consecutive shots by Nora Buck (Shawmut, Maine) were stopped by Pendergast. The Wildcats drew a penalty corner early in the fourth period, but Winkin was able to prevent Natalie Rivas from scoring the game-tying goal.
The ball quickly worked its way to the other end of the field, where Regis drew a penalty corner opportunity. Chipman inserted the ball to Lowe at the top of the circle, and Lowe sent a shot through everyone into the center of the net, giving the Pride an insurance goal.
The Pride kept the Wildcats from creating any more significant scoring chances the rest of the way. Regis outshot Johnson & Wales, 18-13, including a 12-9 advantage in shots on goal. Pendergast finished with eight saves, while Winkin ended up with seven saves.
Regis (7-10, 4-4 GNAC) will make its first appearance in a postseason conference tournament since winning the NECC Tournament in 2016. The Pride will look to avenge a 2-1 overtime loss to Anna Maria on Oct. 4.