NEW CASTLE – Brianna Niggebrugge usually plays quarterback for the Padua field hockey team’s offense, but she has found the scoring touch in recent games. Her latest goal, which came with 1:27 to play in the Pandas’ showdown with Concord on Sept. 28, provided the winning margin in a 2-1 win over the Raiders at Kirkwood Soccer Club.
Padua is ranked first in Division I by 302Sports.com, and the Raiders are right behind them at No. 2.
Niggebrugge finished a long drive by the Pandas by rolling a seeing-eye shot past Concord goalkeeper Cece Gillis. The team was able to complete several nice passes on the artificial surface, and it paid off.
The goal came near the end of a second half in which Padua dominated possession but could not get a shot into the cage. The Pandas earned eight penalty corners in the half – of their 10 in the game – but could not convert on any of them. They were able to get pressure on Gillis, but the keeper was up to the task all day long.
Concord had precious few chances in the second half, sending just one shot toward the Padua keeper. The Raiders played two minutes up a player after a yellow card on a Panda, but Padua was able to hold them off.
The first half was played much more evenly. Concord struck first at the 23:07 mark when Amelia Christensen took a pass from Sarah Raab and sent it through traffic from the edge of the circle past the keeper. The Raiders’ defense held off the Padua attack for a while, but eventually the Pandas got their chances.
Kathleen Melia was stoned twice by Gillis, the first time after she deked through two defenders and found herself all alone in the crease. Several minutes later, Gillis rejected another attempt by Melia. The third time was the charm for the senior, who got her stick on a crossing pass from Niggebrugge and tied the game with 6:30 to go in the half.
Padua (4-0) outshot Concord, 10-4. The Pandas face a stiff test Saturday morning at 11 a.m. when they travel to Lewes to meet perennial power Cape Hemlopen. Concord (5-2) will visit Milford on Monday at 4 p.m.