Assoc. Sports Editor
In sports, there are times when the fists are lowered, the snarls are muzzled and the smack-talk is muted for the sake of one thing: sportsmanship.
On Saturday, the Millersville Marauders (3-0) and Seton Hill Griffins (1-3) were pitted against each other for the first time since the tragic accident that took the life of Seton Hill’s female lacrosse coach, Kristina Quigley, in the spring of 2013. The field hockey game ended in a 4-0 shutout by Millersville. But what was important during the game wasn’t located on the scoreboard; it was on the wrists of the Lady Marauders.
“The Millersville field hockey players had asked if it would be okay for them to wear the ‘KQ’ wristbands as we did in the spring, along with other PSAC teams,” Marauder coach Shelly Behrens said. “We want[ed] to show our continued support of both the SHU lacrosse team and the SHU athletics family.”
With the red bands around their arms, Millersville took the field in Greensburg, Pa. with an undefeated record through their first two games this fall. Before it was time for win lucky number three, the competing captains of both squads embraced each other in the middle of the field.
“The Seton Hill captains thanked our captains pre-game … for wearing the red SHU wristbands that the MU lacrosse team initiated last spring,” Behrens said.
Once the game kicked off, Millersville’s focus was transfixed upon starting the season off with three-straight wins, but beating a team who upset No. 6-ranked Indiana (Pa.) earlier in the week wasn’t quite as easy as pie.
The first slice wasn’t taken out until nearly 20 minutes into the game, when junior Sarah Bomberger scored off a pass from midfielder Samatha Ruane.
Seton Hill’s goalie, Rebecca Portillo, remained sturdy in front of the goal, accumulating 9 of her 14 saves in the first half. Portillo’s unwavering effort sent Millersville’s offense to the benches a tad befuddled on how to translate more of their 11 shots into scores.
In the second half, it seemed like the confusion was over, and Portillo was no match for the Lady Marauders’ surge.
In the time it took for one goal to be scored, junior Rachel Dickinson notched two all by herself.
“[It] was great to see Rachel get her first two goals of the season,” Behrens said. With those two quick scores, Millersville found themselves comfortably on top, and Dickinson found herself tied for second in total points for the Marauders.
By the time Millersville’s top goal scorer, Champayne Hess, scored to make the score 4-0, Griffins head coach Whitney Harnish had seen enough of Portillo’s struggles between the goalposts, and replaced her with Autumn Reid.
Portillo ended up with 14 saves and 3 goals allowed, while, in Reid’s 22 minutes of play, let 1 goal slip in but redirected 4 of Millersville’s excessive tries. Although the score was heavily weighted on the Black and Yellow side, Seton Hill’s defensive crew wasn’t too shabby when adding their opponent’s 27 total shots to the equation.
Millersville’s offense dominated, while leaving only crumbs for the Griffins to try and ingest some momentum from. The four shots they managed to fling towards the opposing net were saved by Marauder goalie Lauren Sotzin.
“I think our defense really stepped up when we needed it to,” Behrens said about her equally impressive side of the ball. “I credit all the team for being sharper and taking care of their assignments.”
The win propelled the No. 4-ranked Marauders to their best start since 1985 – a season which they ended up winning the national championship. After a statement season last year, Behrens and her young, new and improved squad are only looking forward.
“I am really happy with our preparations and how we have been playing,” she said. “I think the team has a great reference of their time and experiences from 2012, and we are building on that to be as great as we can be together in 2013.”
After an “awesome team effort,” as Behrens encapsulated her team’s performance, more field hockey will be played against two-time defending national champion West Chester on September 18.
Will this be the year of Millersville field hockey, or will West Chester give them another glimpse of what it feels like to fall short, just as they did in the PSAC Championships last season?
Nevertheless, with all the hubbub happening around the team and their early success, Quigley and Seton Hill will always be in their hearts.
“We are holding all of this in our thoughts,” Behrens said. “We, of course, only wish healing and continued support for the SHU family.”