ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. – Dominating the game but still stuck in a scoreless deadlock with Elizabethtown, the Ursinus College field hockey got a big spark from an unexpected source.
Brianne Nicholas scored all three goals, including the tiebreaker right before halftime, to propel the Bears to a 3-0 victory on Wednesday afternoon, tripling her career output and registering her first hat trick all in one afternoon.
Nicholas came in with one goal to her name, but the junior was in the right place at the right time all day as Ursinus (2-2) picked up its second consecutive win. Two of Nicholas' markers came off rebounds after a penalty corner, capitalizing on an avalanche of corner opportunities and sustained offensive pressure.
The Bears spent the majority of the first half entrenched in the Blue Jays zone. Although they were unable to generate much from the run of play, the visitors applied pressure with seven corners leading to nine shots.
Elizabethtown goalie Margo Donlin stopped the first nine Ursinus shots on frame, including several rebounds following corner inserts. But the resistance finally broke just before halftime. Donlin stoned junior Erin Saybolt and freshman Jamie Mayer on the doorstep in succession, but Mayer's shot rebounded to Nicholas for a quick tap-in goal with 1:53 left in the period.
The Blue Jays recorded just one shot in the first half, an effort that was cut off by Ursinus goalie Jules Singer well wide of the left post after a corner insert.
Ursinus nearly doubled its advantage about eight minutes into the second stanza, but Donlin robbed senior Bridget Sherry of a goal with a spectacular diving save after Sherry found herself in perfect shooting position following a rebound of a shot by classmate Maria DiCioccio.
The Bears cashed in on another corner opportunity a few minutes later. Nicholas did good work in the circle to earn the corner, which was taken by sophomore Gabriela Howell. Her insert went to sophomore Devon Carroll, who slipped a pass to Nicholas for a shot between the legs of the Donlin.
Nicholas capped her incredible afternoon with another goal in the 60th minute, scoring off a scrum in front of the goal.
Ursinus outshot the Blue Jays, 31-0, at Snell Field a year ago and was similarly dominant in the return trip. The Bears teed up 19 shots and earned 16 corners and limited the hosts to just three shots and three corners. Donlin finished with 14 saves to keep Elizabethtown in striking distance for much of the contest.
Singer was hardly tested, but did make a nice save in the 51st minute as she got in front of a tipped shot following a corner. The shutout was the 10th of her career.
Ursinus opens Centennial Conference play at McDaniel on Friday.