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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Field Hockey wins 2-1 thriller in OT Over Liberty

Field Hockey wins 2-1 thriller in OT Over Liberty
Matt O’Brien
Staff Writer

A two-goal game from senior Megan Byaz secured a 2-1 victory for Old Dominion Field Hockey against Liberty. Her second goal came with five minutes left of a thrilling overtime period. The victory puts the Monarchs at 6-3 on the season with a 2-1 mark in the Big East.

“I was happy we were able to pull it out, but overall in this game, I thought we got outplayed. We can play much better than that, and we have. It’s all part of being a young team,” said head coach Andrew Griffiths.

Griffiths knows his team needs to be more consistent if they want to contend in close games, especially with a team such as Liberty, who was ranked No. 14 in the country coming in.

“Our ball movement and defensive play have to improve. Liberty is a really solid team and they made it tough for us tonight,” he said.

Both teams played a very tactical first half with little scoring chances coming from either side. Liberty had four penalty corners but they were all in quick succession and stifled by the ODU defense. Both sides ran well-executed presses making it very difficult to generate any offense.

It was a chess match, however, and a loss of concentration by the Monarchs led to a quick opportunity for Liberty with just seconds remaining in the half. Liberty’s Alynn Richardson capitalized off a quick pass putting the Flames up 1-0 at the half. ODU was able to muster just one shot on goal.

Liberty came out firing in the second half, really testing the Monarch defense.

“The second half was shaky at times. I had to call a timeout with 15 minutes left to get the team refocused,” Griffiths said.

ODU’s offense became frantic. With just two minutes to go, Byaz created some separation on a penalty corner and found the back of the net.

“It was an amazing feeling. Our corner play has really improved, that play was made possible by everybody,” Byaz said.

Tied 1-1, the teams went into a 15 minute overtime period. Liberty was outshooting ODU 9-6 and both teams were looking fatigued.

In OT, the Monarchs were led by goalkeeper Kealsie Robles game-saving performance, she played all 70 minutes and made three crucial saves to keep her team in the game.

“Kealsie can certainly be a difference maker in a game and it’s nice to have that. In the last couple of years, we have controlled games better than this and come out on the losing end. Good goalkeeping play can really make a difference,” he said.

Griffiths made a late substitution bringing in Alyssa Jones who was able to maintain her composure and get a penalty corner for the Monarchs. A good read by Byaz allowed her to get open and she found the back of the net once again with four minutes remaining.

“I wanted that one really bad I was getting very tired at the end there,” Byaz said.

The comeback win puts the Monarchs in a good position going into next weekend as they will face two tough opponents in Virginia and Maryland.

“There is plenty talent on this team, but we have a tough stretch coming up. We have to get to playing better,” Griffiths said.