HUNTINGDON, Pa.- Visiting Goucher rallied with a three-goal second half but fell short in the end as Juniata field hockey held on for a 4-3 win at a rainy Knox Stadium on Saturday night. The victory puts the Eagles in a three-way tie atop the Landmark Conference standings with Catholic and Elizabethtown and also secures them a spot in the upcoming Conference Tournament.
Sarah Bilheimer (Bethlehem, Pa./Freedom) scored all four goals for JC on the night. It is the most goals by one player in a game since Kim Wagner scored five against Moravian in 2006.
The Eagles seemed to run away with the game after Bilheimer scored her fourth goal in the 49th minute. The Gophers got on the board in the 51st minute and then quickly added their second a little over two minutes later to make it a 4-2 game.
Goucher suddenly found itself back in the contest. The Eagles had some good looks in the Gopher zone but couldn't get the ball into the cage to increase their lead.
In the 66th minute, Goucher was awarded three straight penalty corners. Kristin Shlanko did get a shot off but was denied by Eagle goalkeeper Kylie Edwards (Danville, Pa/Danville). Following the Gopher's fourth penalty corner, Lizzie Barminski snuck one past Edwards and in as Goucher cut the lead to 4-3.
Juniata was able to hold the Gophers off in the end. Goucher had possession in the Juniata end but could not convert as the Eagles walked away with the win.
Edwards started for JC and had three saves. Santana Mays (Parkton, Md./Hereford) played 18:46 and did not record a save. Alex Stroud (Ellicot City, Md./Centennial) and Kelsey Leibelsperger (Fleetwood, Pa/Fleetwood) both picked up defensive saves.
"Today we had a balanced offensive game putting in two goals a piece per half and led by senior Sarah Bilheimer," said head coach Caroline Gillich afterwards." She was a ninja in the circle appearing and re-appearing all over the place. Seniors Alex Stroud and Kelsey Leibelsperger came up big for us as well. Kelsey on her tackle timing and with a great early defensive save. Alex was so steady coming up with interceptions and block tackles. Sophomore Katie Alexander and junior Brittani LaFollette stepped it up a level as well with contributing assists."
Prior to the game, the team honored its seven graduating seniors. Those seniors: Bilheimer, Stroud, Leibelsperger, Brittany Meier (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College), Allison Groft (Hanover, Pa/South Western), Cassie Clarence (Coopersburg, Pa./Southern Lehigh), and Melissa Rutherford (Phoenixville, Pa./Phoenixville), have amassed 41 wins, 74 goals, and 196 points throughout their time. They have made two postseason appearances and have won a Landmark Conference Championship during the course of their respective careers.
The Eagles host their final regular game of the season this coming Tuesday against York College (Pa.). Start time will be at 4 p.m.
We are so excited to head back to the Conference Tournament in 2015," noted Gillich. "It will come down to the last game of the season for many of us to see where it all will take place. We have one home and one away game left in the regular season. Its time to finish strong!"