Cardinals down No. 8 Rowan to remain unbeaten

WASHINGTON – The CUA field hockey team continues to make headlines as the Cardinals made a major statement on Saturday with a 2-1 win over No. 8 Rowan inside Cardinal Stadium.  Meredith Chandler scored the game-winner for the Cardinals in the 47th minute off a Mary Swarthout assist.

The win is CUA’s first over a ranked opponent since September of 2007 when the Cardinals downed No. 15 Juniata 4-1.

"I didn't think we were as sharp today as we've been," CUA head coach Gia Cillizza said.  "It took more of a mental and physical toughness than usual, especially against a team as strong as Rowan, to win this game.  We really had to grind it out the whole game.  Rowan is an athletic, talented team, but we were able to find a way to get a win."

Saturday’s game was a fast, physical affair played between two quality teams.  The Cardinals registered ten shots on the afternoon and the Profs were credited with nine.  Rowan received eight penalty corners on the day and CUA totaled six.

Like it has done so many times this season, CUA jumped on top first, as Emma Dixon scored off a rebound seven minutes into the contest to put the Cardinals up 1-0.  "I thought it was very important to strike first," Cillizza said.  "It showed that we were ready to play from the start and that we weren't going to back down.  But we know Rowan has the ability to score a lot of goals quickly so it was important that we kept pushing." 

Rowan did not get off its first shot of the game until 15:40 had gone by when Marisa Schoepflin tried to put one past CUA’s Krystyanna Ramsdell, but the Cardinals’ keeper was up to the challenge and the score remained 1-0.

A Nicole Vallanti shot came at the 25:28 mark for Rowan, but again Ramsdell stuffed it.  CUA raced down the other end and was looking to add to its lead when Chandler got a shot off, but Lisa Apt made the save for the Profs.  Less than two minutes later CUA’s Tory Gagliardi tried her hand at scoring, but Apt again sent the shot back.  That proved to be the final shot of the opening 35 minutes and so CUA took its 1-0 lead into halftime.

Nearly nine minutes into the second half Rowan was awarded a penalty stroke and Julie Cairone stepped up for the attempt.  Cairone just slipped the ball past Ramsdell into the back of the cage and things were knotted at one at the 43:34 mark.  That goal was the first the Cardinals had given up all season long.

Unfazed, CUA continued to attack, taking the next three shots, including one by Chandler at the 46:54 mark that gave the lead back to the home team.  CUA came down field on a fast break and following a wild scramble in front of the cage, Swarthout found Chandler who beat Apt for the score and a 2-1 lead. 

"I thought that was awesome to answer right back with a goal," Cillizza explained.  "We just went right down the field and got the goal.  I love that mentality about our team to not stop fighting."

The final 24 minutes of the contest were nothing short of a battle.  Both teams fought for open shots as each defense stepped its play up in hopes of not surrendering a score. 

Rowan fired three shots at Ramsdell in a span of six minutes, but two went wide and the other was stopped cold.  A Calrone shot at the 57:17 mark was also stopped by Ramsdell, as was a Rachael Dix shot five minutes later.

The Profs were awarded the final penalty corner of the afternoon with less than four minutes to play, but CUA’s defense quickly moved the ball out of its zone. 

Rowan had one final chance in the last minute to try and tie things up, but the Cardinals continually challenged the Profs and time eventually expired sending CUA to its biggest win of the season.

"The defense was so tough today," Cillizza said.  "This was their most intense game of the season.  They battled all afternoon long."

She continued, "Kris (Ramsdell) made some outstanding saves for us; the team gave her the game ball afterwards and I thought she really deserved it.  She was composed back there and overall the defense really hung together for the entire game."

Cillizza concluded, "Mary Swarthout did a great job for us.  She was relentless with her shooting and rebounding; she made a number of terrific hustle plays throughout the game."

CUA will return to action on September 22 when the Cardinals travel to take on Mary Washington.  Game time is set for 4:30.

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