MILLTOWN — Padua and Saint Mark’s battled through more than three and a half quarters of their field hockey game on Sept. 27 with the Spartans holding on to a 1-0 lead, but three goals for the Spartans in a span of two minutes, 45 seconds provided a cushion in a 4-1 win over the Pandas.
It was a slow offensive start for both teams, with Saint Mark’s goalkeeper Jenna League called on to make a single save in the opening minutes. Keiran Haywood put the Spartans on top with 6:18 to go in the first, knocking the ball past Pandas keeper Taylor Kozink after a scramble in front.
The Pandas picked up a few penalty corners toward the end of the first quarter, but they were unable to generate much against the Saint Mark’s defense. Kozink, meanwhile, added a kick save after the first goal, and she kept Padua in the game in the second quarter. She helped the Pandas fend off five Spartans penalty corners in the quarter with save after save after save.
The second half opened with a flurry of offensive chances for the Pandas, including four penalty corners in a two-minute span that included a save for League, plus a few Padua shots that rolled wide. Kozink was equally effective, stopping everything the Spartans threw at her, including a blocker save in the final 10 seconds of the third.
The Pandas renewed the pressure in the first four minutes of the final stanza, but they could not penetrate the Spartans’ cage. Gradually, the momentum changed, and the Spartans added to their lead with 5:54 to go. Off a corner, Koaink made an initial save, but Riley Fleetwood was there to knock in the rebound.
A minute later, Katie Hanich took possession on a turnover, and she converted that into an unassisted goal. Hanich struck again with 3:09 remaining, getting the ball near midfield, driving and deking, then sending a backhand shot up into the cage.
The Pandas finally solved League, with Noreen Melia scoring with 2:25 left.
League had eight saves for the Spartans, while Claire Krause was credited with one. Saint Mark’s (3-2) plays the second of five consecutive home games on Friday when Concord visits for a 3:45 p.m. start.
Padua had a 14-11 advantage in penalty corners, and Kozink stopped 12 shots. The Pandas (2-2) travel to Caravel on Thursday for a 6:15 p.m. matchup with the Buccaneers.
All photos by Mike Lang.