Eagles Defeat Spartans 4-2 in Home Finale

Katie Alexander had a goal and two assists for Juniata.
Katie Alexander had a goal and two assists for Juniata.

HUNTINGDON, Pa.- Hosting its final regular season game of the season, the Juniata field hockey team walked off the field as winners as the Eagles defeated York 4-2 on Tuesday afternoon. It was the Blue and Gold's sixth straight win at Knox Stadium this year and seventh overall.


The Eagles got on the board first in the eighth minute. Katie Alexander (Mifflinburg, Pa./Mifflinburg) dribbled in front of the goal and flung a shot past Spartan goalkeeper Eve Hauptle and in for the 1-0 lead.


Five minutes later, it was Alexander assisting Sarah Bilheimer (Bethlehem, Pa./Freedom) on her 19th goal of the season and Juniata the lead stood at 2-0. York was able to get to within one with a goal at 20:51 following a penalty corner to make it a 2-1 game.


The score remained at 2-1 for the final 14 minutes of the first frame and more than five and a half minutes into the second half. At 40:39, Alexander connected with Bilheimer once again from the left side of the cage as the JC lead increased to 3-1.


The Spartans kept the pressure on the Eagles and not let them run away with the game. York scored at 46:32 to again make it a one-goal deficit. Juniata responded in the 50th minute when Melissa Rutherford (Phoenixville, Pa./Phoenixville) hit a shot from the right side past Spartan goalkeeper Eve Hauptie and in to restore the two-goal Eagle lead.


Both teams would continue to fight in the final 20 minutes. York had two corners and three shots during that time but all three attempts went wide of the goal.


Juniata had the slight edge in shots, 13-11. Penalty corners favored York as it led 12-4.


"Today was a great game with speed and athleticism on both sides," said head coach Caroline Gillich. "I am so proud of our players for the strength they displayed today. We had a lot of problem solving to do and we really increased our communication game both on the field and from the sideline to the field. We were able to work with players on the field and off and effect changes that we needed to make." 


Kylie Edwards (Danville, Pa./Danville) had four saves in the cage for the Eagles. Kelsey Leibelsperger (Fleetwood, Pa./Fleetwood) tallied three defensive saves with Alex Stroud (Ellicott City, Md./Centennial) contributing two. Hauptie stopped six shots for the Spartans.


"Our defense was relentless," said Gillich. "Kelsey Leibelsperger and Alex Stroud came up huge with defensive saves down low, tackles everywhere and blocked shots coming into the circle." 


The Eagles conclude the 2015 regular season with an important Landmark Conference game against Catholic in Washington, DC on Saturday. Start time is at 4:30 pm. With a win and an Elizabethtown loss, Juniata is the #1 seed in the upcoming Landmark Tournament. A win and the Blue Jays win, JC is #2 and will host a semifinal game in both scenarios.