CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Sophomore Nicole Sales (Woodbury, Conn.) of the Wells College field hockey team saved her first goal of the year for the season's biggest game. Scoring early in the first half, her goal powered the Express to a 1-0 victory over Wilson College in the North Eastern Athletic Conference Field Hockey Championship game on Saturday.
In its 40th season of varsity play, the Wells College field hockey team has won its first-ever conference championship and concludes the season with a 5-11 overall record. Wilson, selected as the preseason favorites in the NEAC Coaches' Poll, wraps up its season with an 8-8 overall record after posting an undefeated regular season (3-0).
As an institution, Wells has won its eighth NEAC Championship since joining the league in 2007. The Express have won three women's swimming titles (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), two in men's swimming (2009-10, 2012-13), one in men's basketball (2010-11) and the most recent since women's basketball in 2013-14.
"I am unbelievably proud to be the coach of this team," remarked Head Coach Kat Heterbring after earning the championship title. "The team has improved as the season has gone on and they left it all out on the field today. We entered the game eager to avenge our double-overtime loss to Wilson earlier in the season and our strong effort paid off in the team's first championship."
Sales' goal came only 7:45 into regulation time. Following a Wilson foul, Wells was issued a penalty corner that was taken by senior Chandler Fitzgerald (Weedsport, N.Y.). Sent to the perimeter of the circle, junior Shianne Stokes (Mays Landing, N.J.) launched a shot that was tipped home by Sales for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Senior Kendrick Wilson (Collins, N.Y.) was a dominant presence in Saturday's game for the Express. Of her four saves on the afternoon, her most important stop came at 29:02 of the first half as she turned aside a penalty stroke by Wilson's Megan Sterling. In her career, she has stopped both penalty strokes she has faced.
Wilson outshot the Express by a six-to-four margin and held the decisive advantage in penalty corners, 11-to-4. Wells, however, stopped all four shots faced while Phoenix goalkeeper Kayla Butts allowed one goal on two shots faced.
Following the contest, Stokes was awarded NEAC Field Hockey Tournament Most Valuable Player for her efforts in setting up the game-winning strike by Sales. The postgame ceremony was where the Express received their championship medallions and senior Shelby Bourn (Sidney, N.Y.) received a plaque for winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year award.