SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University field hockey team saw a two-game winning streak come to an end against conference rival Monmouth University, falling, 4-1, in its Northeast Conference opener on Friday night at the Bryant Track and Turf Complex. Bryant moves back at an even 6-6 on the season, while the Hawks improve to 9-4.
Both teams would see all of their offense in the first half before a strong defensive effort in the second stanza. The Hawks used four straight goals over a 12-minute span to take a commanding 4-0 lead before Bryant sophomore Kayleigh Ballantyne (Gorham, Maine) tipped in her fourth marker of the season to cut the deficit to three late in the first half, but that would be the last time either team would find the back of the cage during the evening affair.
Looking to get on the board against the Hawks - who were ranked second in the preseason NEC coaches poll – the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty corner at 32:35. With little time to spare, senior defender Emily Charpentier (Walpole, Mass.) settled the ball, maneuvered by a defender and blasted a shot on the right side of the goal that Ballantyne barely got a piece of for the Black and Gold's only tally of the game.
Kayleigh Kalamar opened the scoring at 16:51 after taking a pass from reigning NEC Player of the Week Michelle Pieczynski and burying it in the left corner of the cage to give the Hawks an early lead. Three minutes later, it was Patricia O'Dwyer who was set up by Pieczynski, as O'Dwyer took a shot through traffic that rolled into the net for Monmouth's second goal.
Pieczynski capped off her five-point evening with an unassisted goal at 26:20, scoring on a backhanded shot in the scoring circle that went in on the right side of the net for her conference-leading 12th goal of the season. Two minutes later, Monmouth was back on the board with a goal by Alex Carroll in the low right corner of the cage, with O'Dwyer picking up the assist on the play.
After the break, the Bulldogs were determined to claw back into the game, and nearly scored in the opening minutes if not for a defensive save by Nicole Manziano on a shot by Karlie Tiscia (Stamford, Conn.) at 38:53 following a penalty corner. Bryant reeled off the first four shots of the second half, but was outshot 10-2 through the remainder of the game.
The Hawks owned a 19-11 edge in shot attempts, with seven on target. Sophomore goalkeeper Megan Hancock (Skowhegan, Maine) turned aside three saves, while Teresa Mathews turned away six shots for the Hawks.
Bryant will face an even stiffer challenge on Sunday, when it welcomes preseason favorite Rider to the Track and Turf Complex for a 12 p.m. matchup against the defending conference champions.