Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College field hockey team, which won 11 of its last 13 games and reached the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Finals, has qualified for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament for the eighth time and the second year in a row. The Bantams edged Williams, 3-2, in overtime on Saturday in the NESCAC Semifinals but lost, 5-0, to Middlebury in the finals the next day, and needed to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA field. Trinity, which has a 12-6 record and is ranked No. 11 in the nation, was selected when the bracket was announced Sunday evening, and the Bantams will host a first-round game on Wednesday, November 8 against Gwynedd Mercy University at 5 p.m. on Robin L. Sheppard Field. Gwynedd Mercy is 17-3 and earned an automatic bid by winning the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSCAC). Tickets for Wednesday's game are $5 for adults, $3 for students, seniors, and children ages 12 and under. Trinity students with ID will be admitted at no charge courtesy of the College's athletic department.
The winner of Wednesday's game will head to Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. to face Salisbury in a second round game on Saturday, November 11, and the quarterfinals will be played at Messiah against the host Falcons, Denison, or Washington and Lee the next day. The NCAA Division III Field Hockey Final Four will take place in Louisville, Ky. the following weekend. Trinity played into the NCAA Second Round last season with a 7-5 win over Cabrini, also a member of the CSAC, at home in the opening round, before falling to Ursinus, 2-1, at Salisbury in the second round. Trinity was an NCAA Final Four participant in 1993 and 1998, and played in NCAA Tournaments in 1996, 1997, 2008, and 2009.
Trinity opened the season with losses in its first four NESCAC games but won 12 of 13 contests to fight their way back to the NESCAC Finals for the first time since 2009. The Bantams' only setbacks after September 23 came at No. 2-ranked Middlebury, and they posted a 4-3 win at New England and a 3-0 shutout of Keene State for a 2-2 record this fall against the NCAA field. Trinity senior co-captain forward Kelcie Finn (Weymouth, Mass.) ranks sixth in the nation in scoring with 3.28 ppg (59) and fifth in goals at 1.44 per game (26) to go with seven assists, and became the first Trinity player to eclipse 200 points in her collegiate career a couple weeks ago. The 2016 NESCAC Player of the Year, Finn scored all three Trinity goals in the NESCAC Semifinal victory over Williams on Saturday and has been named as the league player of the week three times this autumn. Sophomore midfielder Nicole Quinlan (Duxbury, Mass.) leads Trinity in assists nine and adds two goals for 13 points, while junior forward Chandler Solimine (Pelham, N.Y.), an all-league honoree a year ago, is another potent scorer with nine goals and five assists this fall. First-year forward Kendall Brown (Greenwich, Conn.) has five goals and two assists and sophomore midfielder Caroline Curtin (Andover, Mass.) adds three goals and six assists to give the Bantams five double-digit scorers.
Junior Alison Slowe (Medfield, Mass.), also a 2016 All-NESCAC selection, anchors the Trinity defense, along with classmate Madison Guiffre (Wellesley, Mass.) and rookies Jessica Midlidge (Bernardsville, N.J.) and Ellie Tate (Carlisle, Pa.). Slowe also had two goals and two assists on the offensive end, while Guiffre leads the Bantams with four defensive saves, and Tate picked up her first two career assists in the Williams game. Berger ranks second in the conference with a .777 save percentage and has allowed 33 goals in 1,262 minutes for a 1.83 GAA to go with 115 saves in the Trinity cage. Sophomore Olivia Hoyda (Darien, Conn.) is a dependable veteran in the midfield, and first-year Katherine Devaney (Andover, Mass.) has been solid as a midfield starter.
Gwynedd Mercy, coached by Laura-Ann Lane (10th Season), has won six games in a row including a 3-0 shutout of Cabrini in the CSAC Championship Finals on Saturday. Melissa Russo has 37 goals and 14 assists for the Gwynedd Mercy offense, while Brianna O'Connell adds 25 goals and seven assists, and Sarah Crane has 60 saves for a .800 save percentage and a 1.07 GAA in the cage. Two of the Griffins' three losses came on the road against New Jersey opponents in the NCAA Tournament, a 1-0 loss at TCNJ and a 3-2 overtime setback at Montclair State, while Gwynedd opened the year with a 5-2 triumph at Misericordia to give them a 1-2 mark against the NCAA field. This will be the first time the Bantams will face the Griffins.