St. Joseph’s field hockey team advances to Atlantic 10 championship game
The Hawks will play Virginia Commonwealth for the A-10 Title and an NCAA Championships bid.
The celebration by the Saint Joseph's University field hockey team on Friday at Ellen Ryan Field was modest and restrained.
The Hawks had defeated Richmond, 3-1, in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but it was still just another step on a path of goals they had laid out before they played their season opener.
Reaching the A-10 Tournament championship game was checked off the list, just as winning the regular-season title and making the four-team postseason field had been.
The real big celebration — the one that might rock the cozy campus on City Line Avenue — will come on Saturday should St. Joe's (17-2) defeat Virginia Commonwealth (11-6) to retain their Atlantic 10 title and earn the conference's automatic bid into the 2018 NCAA Field Hockey Championships.
The top-seeded Hawks and second-seeded Rams will play at 2 p.m. at Ellen Ryan.
"This was just the first step towards where we want to go," said St. Joe's freshman forward Tonya Botherway, who scored the second of the Hawks' three goals in the first half. "We don't want to be content winning this game because we want to go into (Saturday) with the right mind-set. Our job's not done yet. We're going to have to work hard on Saturday."
The Hawks got goals in the first half from Botherway, freshman back Johanna Huse and senior forward Anna Willocks and then held off Richmond with a solid defense.
"It was really important to score goals and really apply high pressure at the start of the game," said Willocks. "It set the tempo for us in the first half, but it kind of dropped some in the second half.
"We got complacent and they got that goal on us. We have to learn from that and know we can't take anything for granted."
VCU advanced to the title game with a 2-1 overtime victory over Massachusetts on a golden goal from freshman Litiana Field.
The Hawks beat the Rams, 3-1, during the regular season.
"The playoffs are when anything can happen," Willocks said. "We're going to have to work together as a team, go after it and stay focused in the game."
The Atlantic 10 announced its field hockey awards and St. Joe's was well represented.
Botherway (21 goals, 10 assists, 52 points) was named rookie of the year; Hawks goalkeeper Victoria Kammerinke was defensive player of the year, and Hawks coach Lynn Farquhar was coach of the year.
Willocks had her historic run of three consecutive offensive player of the year ended by VCU's Emily McNamara, but made the All-Conference first team as did Botherway, Kammerinke, and midfielder Pepa Serrano.