SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Head coach Kelley Hubbell took to Facebook (Wittenberg University Field Hockey on Facebook) to talk about how much the Tigers have improved, and her young team backed her up in a hard fought 3-0 loss to Denison on Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field.
Wittenberg fell to 4-12 overall and 3-9 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC), but showed definite improvement since their last meeting with Denison, a 6-1 loss on the road on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
For 40 minutes the Tigers had the Big Red struggling, including an inspired first five minutes of the second half that saw the home team take six shots and three penalty corners. But Denison, second in the NCAC race only to undefeated DePauw, showed their resilience by taking advantage of two penalty strokes and forcing home one regulation goal.
Fifteen minutes of play passed without incident to start the game, and although the ball spent most of its time in Wittenberg territory, skilled defensive play by junior Mallory Skrobot (Dublin, Ohio/Watterson), freshman Andrea Mattingly (Louisville, Ky./Mercy Academy) and sophomore Alena Mohler (Powell, Ohio/Pfafftown Reagan, N.C.) kept the Big Red from getting more than two shots, neither on frame.
Wittenberg began exerting offensive pressure over the next 10 minutes, including a penalty corner and a shot on goal by sophomore Audrey Phibbs (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont).
Five minutes of fierce midfield play ensued before Denison began pressuring again, allowing sophomore Casey Fry (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) to step up for some defensive takeaways.
With 1:26 to go in the first half, Denison's Katie McMahon was tripped up from behind on a breakaway and awarded a penalty stroke. She beat junior goalkeeper Alie Marousek (Pittsburgh, Pa./Portsmouth, N.H.) with a well-placed shot to the left corner of the cage.
The Tigers came out ready for the second half and immediately put the pressure on Denison's defense. Within five minutes Wittenberg had taken three penalty corners and six shots, including three from senior Kellen Morrissey (Aurora, Colo./Smoky Hill), and one that hit the crossbar off the stick of Fry.
Denison worked the ball back into their offensive half over the next 10 minutes and scored an apparent goal that was wiped out by the officials, only to earn it back on another penalty stroke goal from Katie McMahon, who again went to the left corner to make it a 2-0 game in the 50th minute.
With two saves under her belt, Marousek left the cage for junior Jessica Jensen (Hartland, Wisc./Arrowhead) following the penalty stroke. Denison continued the pressure and scored for the first time under normal circumstances to take a 3-0 lead in the 54th minute.
Wittenberg stays at home for the next two games, starting with a Wednesday, Oct. 24, contest with NCAC opponent Earlham at 4:30 p.m. at Edwards-Maurer Field.