New Paltz Sports Information Department
The State University of New York at New Paltz field hockey team went into the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship game with expectations of nothing less than a win, and left with exactly that Saturday.
The Cortland Red Dragons came out strong in the first few minutes, scoring the opening goal within four minutes of the first whistle. The Hawks responded immediately with tight defense and patient offense. About 20 minutes into the first half Kaitlyn Gunter created an opportunity, splitting defenders and striking one into the goal.
Starting the second half tied at one, the Hawks stayed poised on defense allowing only six shots throughout the half, while having 12 of their own. The second, and game-winning goal was scored by SUNY New Paltz freshman Jackie Kanapes, assisted by Kaitlyn Gunter who sailed a pass into the middle where Kanapes was there to deflect the ball into the back of the net.
After clinching the 2-1 victory and the program's fifth conference title, the Hawks earned an automatic bid into NCAA DIII field hockey tournament. The first round for all 24 teams in the bracket will be played on Nov. 7, with SUNY New Paltz coming head-to-head with the hosting Keene State Owls in Keene, NH Wednesday for a 3 p.m. match up.
The Owls are coming off their sixth consecutive Little East Conference (LEC) title, most recently defeating Castleton in their conference championship game. The Hawks plan to use their momentum and confidence to start hacking at the bracket and get closer to 2018 NCAA DIII field hockey national championship.