MILLTOWN — Saint Mark’s field hockey team spent most of the afternoon of Oct. 18 in its own defensive end, doing their best to clog up the passing and shooting lanes of the Charter School of Wilmington. Offensively, the Spartans took advantage of the opportunities they had, scoring three times on penalty corners in a 3-0 victory.
It was the first loss of the season for the Force, who had allowed just five goals in their first 10 matches. They had one win in overtime, and another when they scored the winning goal with under two minutes to go in regulation. But Monday, they could not solve the Spartans’ defense.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans to get on the board. Lindsay Sawyer beat Charter goalkeeper Autumn Shahan on a corner, with Katie Hanich getting the assist with 9:26 remaining in the first period. Hanich also assisted on the second goal, this time feeding Riley Fleetwood at the 4:11 mark of the second quarter.
Saint Mark’s played the last 1:48 of the first half shorthanded after two players were sent off for not giving the Force five yards of space on restarts after the referees had given multiple warnings. They were able to get through those two minutes without any damage.
The Force came out attacking in the third quarter, spending nearly the entire 15 minutes in the Saint Mark’s half of the field. The Spartans again were shorthanded for the last five minutes of the quarter after another penalty, and Charter had two penalty corner opportunities during that time. But it was the Spartans who struck.
The home team earned a corner as the quarter came to a close. Sawyer sent a shot toward the goal, and with players from both teams taking whacks at the ball, Catherine Kaminsky got a hold of one and sent a shot high into the cage with no time left on the clock.
It was all Charter in the fourth quarter, but they could not get one past goalkeeper Abigail McIlvain. She made a big save on a shot out of a Force penalty corner with about four and a half minutes to go, and less than a minute later she knocked a shot away with her blocker. Her defenders also got their sticks on a number of Force attempts.
The game ended on an unfortunate note with 19 seconds remaining on the clock. An attempted clearing shot by a Saint Mark’s player hit one of her opponents in the mouth. As trainers tended to the injured player, parents began arguing about the play and whether it was intentional. After listening to the back and forth for a minute, the referees declared the game over.
Shot totals were not available Monday night, but the Force held a 20-5 edge on penalty corners. McIlvain was credited with four saves, and Saint Mark’s posted its seventh shutout of the season. The Spartans (8-4) are off until Oct. 26, when they host Padua at 3:45 p.m.
Shahan had two saves for the Force, who are now 10-1. They travel to Conrad on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.