Field Hockey Weekly Preview: NCAA Tournament 1st Round (Gwynedd Mercy)

Field Hockey Weekly Preview: NCAA Tournament 1st Round (Gwynedd Mercy)

THIS WEEK: The No. 17-ranked Trinity College field hockey earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship Tournament on Sunday night after reaching the championship game of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament before falling to Middlebury. The tournament appearance is Trinity's eighth in program history and second in a row. The Bantams will host Gwynedd Mercy University on Wednesday at 5 p.m. with the winner moving on to the second round at top-ranked Messiah over the weekend.

MATCH-UPS:
Trinity (12-6) v. Gwynedd Mercy (17-3)
Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 5:00 p.m.
Sheppard Field
Hartford, Connecticut
Live Stats
Live Video

Scouting the Griffins: Gwynedd Mercy received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after defeating Cabrini, which Trinity defeated in last year's first round of the tournament, 3-0 in the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Championship game. The conference title was the sixth in the program's history and first since 2014 as the Griffins are riding a nine-game winning streak entering tournament play. They are led by Melissa Russo who leads the country with 1.95 goals per game and also 4.63 points per game (88p, 37g, 14a). Behind her is Brianna O'Connell who ranks 12th in the nation in points per game (2.85) as the Griffins boast the most potent scoring offense (5.06 gpg) and the highest scoring margin (4.18) in the country. Sarah Crane leads the team in cage, posting a 12-3 record, 1.07 GAA and .800 save percentage. 

Keys to the game: Gwynedd Mercy is just 2-3 in games decided by one goal or less while the Bantams are 5-3 in such contests. Trinity will have to find a way to stifle Russo and the Griffin offense who have been held to less than three goals just four times this fall. The Griffins come out of the same league as Cabrini who scored five goals in last year's first round matchup against Trinity, however the Bantam offense scored seven times of their own. The Bantams will look to stay hot offensively as they have averaged 4.2 goals per game in their last five victories. 

WEEKLY NOTES:

- Trinity remains second in the NESCAC with eight defensive saves. Junior defender Madison Guiffre leads the team with four while sophomore Olivia Hoyda has a pair, and classmates Callyn Cass and Nicole Quinlan each have one as well. 

- Senior co-captain Kelcie Finn carried the Bantams in the NESCAC Tournament, scoring five of the team's six goals during the playoffs. She scored all three goals in Trinity's 3-2 overtime win against Williams, highlighted by the game-winner in overtime. Finn leads the conference and ranks sixth nationally in scoring with 3.28 ppg (59) and fifth nationally in goals with 1.44 per game (26) to go with seven assists. 

- Quinlan ranks fourth in the league in assists with 0.50 (9 in 18 games) and is joined by fellow sophomore Caroline Curtin who is tied eighth in the league in assists with 0.50 (6 in 12 games). Curtin has scored three goals for 12 points and Quinlan adds two goals for 13 points. Junior Chandler Solimine ranks second on the team with 23 points (9g, 5a, 12th in NESCAC) after scoring a goal in the quarterfinals victory over Hamilton. 

- Junior Lori Berger ranks second in the conference with a .777 save percentage and has allowed 33 goals in 1,261 minutes for a 1.83 GAA to go with 115 saves this fall. Berger made 14 total saves last week and is tied for third in the conference with four shutouts this fall.

- After a 1-4 start to the season, the Bantams have won 11 of their last 13 games entering the NCAA Tournament. During that stretch, Trinity has outscored its opponents, 38-21. The Bantams have also moved to No. 11 in the NFHCA National Poll while Gwynedd Mercy is unranked but receiving votes.