JMU roundup: Dukes advance to CAA field hockey finals

DEDHAM, Mass. — The fourth-seeded James Madison University field hockey team shut out top-seeded No. 18 Northeastern 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals to advance to the finals.

The Dukes will face either second-seeded William and Mary or third-seeded Delaware on Sunday. The win marked JMU coach Christy Morgan’s 150th career victory.

JMU improved to 12-7 this season, while Northeastern dropped to 14-5. Senior goalkeeper Hannah George recorded her second shutout of the year and ninth win of the season (9-6) after making six saves. Becky Garner took the loss (14-5), allowing three goals and making five saves.

The Dukes earned a corner in the 33rd minute of play to set up their first-half scoring. Junior midfielder Adrienne le Vatte pushed the ball in to senior back Dana Allaband, who passed it off to junior back Loes Stijntjes. Stijntjes powered the shot into the cage from the top of circle with 2:25 remaining in the first half.

Redshirt-junior midfielder Taylor West gave the Dukes a 2-0 lead with 30:46 to play, picking up a rebound off a blocked shot. Junior forward Danni Wilson made it a 3-0 lead for JMU, picking up a pass from Allaband and powering it by the goalkeeper with 19:13 left in the game. With her second assist of the game, Allaband moved into a tie for fifth on the JMU all-time assists list (30).

JMU outshot Northeastern 16-9, including an 8-6 advantage in shots on goal. The Dukes also edged the Huskies in penalty corners 7-6.

The Dukes advance to the CAA finals for the first time since 2008 when they won the CAA championship with a 1-0 victory over Old Dominion. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at Dedham Field.


HARRISONBURG — Sophomore outside hitter Kate Whitmire knocked down a career-high 19 kills to lead the James Madison volleyball team to a 3-2 (14-25, 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 15-9) win over Delaware at Sinclair Gymnasium on Friday night.

Junior outside hitter Meghan Niski posted her ninth double-double of the season with 17 kills, tying her career best, and 13 digs to lift JMU (15-11, 7-6 CAA) to the victory, as the Dukes clinched a berth in the CAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season.

Senior middle blocker Kelly Maguire racked up 12 kills on just 17 attacks, dropping just a pair of errors to hit .588 on the evening, the highest attack percentage of any Duke this season with at least a dozen kills.

In the first set, the Dukes jumped out to a 6-3 lead, but four straight Delaware points kick-started a 14-4 run that put the Blue Hens up 17-11. After JMU called a timeout and snapped the run with a kill from Maguire, Delaware used an 8-3 to close out the set at 25-14.

JMU took an early lead in the second set, jumping ahead 3-1 and 7-4 before the Blue Hens closed the gap. The teams battled back and forth throughout, as they tallied eight ties before the Dukes took the lead for good at 20-19. That point started a 5-1 run that gave the Dukes a 24-20 lead, as they went into the break with a 25-22 win in the frame.

After the break, it was the Blue Hens’ turn to jump in front, as they went up 5-2 on a run that included a trio of kills. JMU fought back immediately to tie things at 6-6 and the squads would trade points for much of the middle part of the set.

The Dukes would edge ahead, 18-15, on a kill from Whitmire, but the Blue Hens picked up two straight points to pull within one. After a service error from Delaware, JMU ran off four straight points to take the lead for good at 22-17 and, from there, would cruise to a 25-21 win.

The fourth set proved to be tightly-contested from the outset, with neither team leading by more than three until five straight Delaware points put the Blue Hens up 16-9, a lead they would eventually stretch to 22-13. At that point, the Dukes launched into a 9-1 run, including seven kills, to pull within one at 23-22, but Delaware was able to pick up a pair of kills to force a fifth set at 25-22.

JMU hit the gas pedal early in the decisive frame, roaring out to a 7-1 lead in front of a raucous cheering section. Delaware crept back, eventually pulling within four points, but the Dukes held off the charge, getting their last four points on kills to take the fifth set and the match at 15-9.

Defensively, the Dukes proved versatile, as junior libero Sierra Hahn-Ventrell racked up 28 digs, six more than her previous career high. Niski joined the junior in double-digits, her 14th such defensive effort of the year.

Senior middle blocker Lizzy Briones, who broke the JMU record for career block assists in her last outing, continued her climb up the record books with two solo blocks and four block assists.

She now sits tied for 10th in career solo blocks with 59, along with Allyson Hall (2004-07). She remains second in total blocks with 466, but is now just 19 behind career leader Kate Fuchs, who racked up 485 from 2001-04.

The Dukes will be back in action Saturday night, as they wrap up their 2014 home schedule with a 7 p.m. matchup against Towson. Prior to the contest, JMU will honor its four graduating seniors: Kristi Richardson, Kelly Maguire, Lizzy Briones and Martha Stewart.

Women’s soccer

BROOKLINE, Mass. – The James Madison women’s soccer team had its season come to an end Friday night in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament with a 4-3 loss to Hofstra at Parsons Field.

The Dukes finish 2014 with an overall record of 12-8 and a conference mark of 7-2.

In a tightly-contested, back and forth match, JMU and Hofstra took turns putting the ball in the back of the net with Hofstra putting in the game-winner that went in thanks to a long-range shot and near-perfect conditions to convert such an attempt on.

With a steady wind blowing at Emily Agudelo’s back, the defender took a free kick from 45 yards out in the 81st minute and sent the ball high in the air toward goal. With the ball up in the air being aided by the wind, redshirt-junior goalkeeper Ellen Forrest had to backpedal for the ball and ultimately stumbled over her feet. The ball came down just in front of the crossbar and went in for the game-winner.

Hofstra outshot JMU 17-14 in the match, but both teams mustered nine shots on target. Of those nine shots on goal for JMU, sophomore forward Ashley Herndon put two of them in the back of the net.

The first goal of the game came in the sixth minute when redshirt-freshman midfielder Allison Bortell took a shot from the top of the box that was deflected by a Hofstra defender. The bounce off her leg went right to Herndon’s feet and the sophomore collected it with just the goalkeeper to beat. Herndon put just enough on her shot to beat Friederike Mehring to the left side to put the Dukes up 1-0.

Trailing 3-2 after Hofstra put in its third goal of the game in the 64th minute, Herndon again capitalized on a chance right out in front of goal. A cross from senior forward Katie Hyland was sent into the middle of the box from the left corner and Herndon one-timed her shot off the left post and in to knot the game at 3-3.

The point was Hyland’s third of the match, as the senior tallied JMU’s second goal of the game on a bullet from 30 yards out that beat Mehring, who was stunned by the long-range shot. Hyland ends her career at JMU with 51 points, which is good for 19th in program history. Her career total of 20 goals puts her alone at 19th in JMU history.

Sam Scolarici and Leah Galton, the conference’s two leading scorers, scored each of the first three goals for the Pride. Scolarici scored both first-half goals for Hofstra. Her first goal came just two minutes after Herndon gave the Dukes the lead on a rebound attempt. The initial shot from a Hofstra attacker was deflected into the post by Forrest, but Scolarici put the rebound home to tie the game.

In the 19th minute, Scolarici put the Pride on top 2-1 with her 17th goal of the year after JMU was called for a penalty in the box. Scolarici stepped up and put her attempt home to the left side of goal as Forrest guessed and dove to the right.

Galton, who was named CAA Player of the Year for the second season in a row on Wednesday, scored the third goal of the game for Hofstra in the 64th minute. She was on the receiving end of a nice lead-up sequence through the middle of the field and ended up splitting two JMU defenders after a flick-on header by Scolarici put her one-on-one with Forrest.

Galton nearly scored on a similar play with 11 minutes to go when the score was 3-3, but Forrest adjusted her tactic of sitting back on the first goal to charging out the second time around, forcing Galton to take a pressured shot from distance at the top of the box.