Cards End 7-Game Skid as Hat Tricks from Jess Chukwu '11 & Kayla Ellman '13 Pace Win over SJFC
Meeting for just the second time but for the second year in a row, Wesleyan and St. John Fisher squared off Sun., April 11 in Middletown in a battle of capable teams victimized by tough schedules. Six of Wesleyan's eight losses entering the game had been against teams ranked among the top-20 nationally in Division III. Fisher dropped three games to top-20 squads while also losing three other games this year by a lone goal or in overtime. When the team faced each other for the first time a year ago in Hilton Head, S.C., Wesleyan emerged with a 13-10 victory.
This time the final outcome was virtually the same as Wesleyan scored three of the final four goals to pull away from a 9-9 tie at the 15:24 mark of the second half and come away with a 12-10 triumph, ending a seven-game losing streak this year. Jess Chukwu '11 (#23, right side photo) put Wesleyan ahead at 11:43 with a long run from midfield and a high shot to the left corner of the goal. That completed Chukwu's hat trick and upped her team-leading goal total to 26. Kayla Ellman '13 (#8, photo insert lower left) spotted Wesleyan an 11-9 edge just 13 seconds later as she got the draw control (Wesleyan had a decided 20-4 edge on draws) and raced 60 yards to score her second goal of the game. Fisher got a goal at 9:32 to make it a one-goal game at 11-10. Ellman made it a hat trick at 6:22 when she converted a free-position shot into the game's final tally. It was her seventh goal of the year. Wesleyan converted on four of five free-position opportunities in the game.
Though there was no further scoring, Fisher had two free-position chances down the stretch and each time goalie Maggie Drowica '12 (#13, photo insert upper left) came up big for Wesleyan. She stopped one attempt with two minutes remaining and then made another dramatic save at the one-minute mark. Fisher connected on just three of nine FP attempts as Drowica closed out the game with 11 stops.
Fisher led only once in the game, 2-1, at 22:55 of the opening half. Wesleyan then scored the next four goals for a 5-2 cushion. It proved to be the largest lead of the game but Wesleyan held three-goal advantages at 7-4, 8-5 and 9-6 as well. A three-goal Fisher burst in a span of 6:21 brought about the first tie at 9-9 since the teams were deadlocked at 2-2 midway through the first half.
Eileen Gaffney '12 and Catherine Taibi '13 each had a two-goal performance and Allie Lynch '11 dished out three assists, giving her 30 on the year, one shy of the Wesleyan seasonal record set in 2007.
Wesleyan returned to NESCAC action against its Little Three rival Williams Saturday, April 17. For the sixth straight game, Wesleyan scored first in the opening three minutes but for the fifth time in those six games, the tide turned as Williams scored seven straight on its way to a 9-3 halftime lead. Wesleyan, which was led by Lynch's four assists, giving her a school-record 34 for the season, could get no closer than five goals the rest of the way as Williams took the Little Three title with a 13-7 victory. The Ephs had defeated Amherst for the first time in nine seasons a week earlier. The Cardinals also got a pair of goals each from Taibi and Erin McCarthy '10 vs. Williams.
Wesleyan wraps up its Little Three play in its next game Sat., April 24, traveling to Amherst.
(photos courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)