photo credit Pam Kalbfleisch
Memphis, Tenn. – Enjoying one of its most offensively proficient games at the most opportune time, the Transylvania field hockey team disposed of the Ferrum College Panthers 5-0 in Thursday afternoon's Southern Athletic Association quarterfinal match.
The Pioneers advanced to the SAA semifinals against No. 2 seed Centre College on Saturday with the electric opening-round victory at Mason Field in 2016's edition of the SAA conference tournament, hosted by No. 1 seed Rhodes College.
The victory marks the second straight year the Pioneers have won their opening-round match in the SAA Tournament, following last year's 2-1 win against Hendrix.
Transylvania's five goals against Ferrum matched its second-highest goal output in a match this season, and marked the most goals scored against an SAA opponent in 2016. The win was the second of the season over Ferrum, with the other coming in a 2-1 home overtime victory against the Panthers on September 24.
"We had a great team win," said head coach Sarah Humphries. "We played as a unit and were able to capitalize on our offensive opportunities."
In Friday afternoon's game, overtime would not be required for the Pioneers' rematch win against Ferrum that held even higher stakes this time.
Nearly as soon as the whistle blew, the tournament's No. 6 seed Transylvania went right to work against the No. 3 seed Panthers. Freshman Taylor Insley earned a penalty corner three minutes into the contest and sophomore Caroline Patrick converted for the first goal of the game for the Pioneers.
11 minutes later, sophomore Alyson Bergman helped apply pressure to Ferrum as she delivered on the second goal of the game for the Pioneers.
The rest of the first half became a battle of possession, one that Transylvania controlled while waiting patiently for the right shot.
The Pioneers took a 2-0 halftime lead to the locker room, and came out firing to start the second half. Insley joined in the scoring throng with the Pios' third goal nine minutes into the second period. With the Pioneers in offensive and defensive control, Transylvania subdued the Panthers the rest of the way, limiting them to just two shots on goal all afternoon.
The second half carried on magnificently for the Pioneers as Insley obtained her first career hat-trick with two more goals that occurred within a 93-second stretch with 15 minutes to go in regulation. Insley has now scored five goals in the last four matches for the Pioneers.
"Our defense stepped up for us today and held Ferrum to only two penalty corners," added Humphries. "We had both starters and players off the bench come up big for us when it was needed and we saw some great effort on both sides of the ball. We put together a full 70 minutes today and the score really reflected that effort."
Reigning SAA Defensive Player of the Week, goalkeeper Allyson Benz picked up her fourth shutout of the year with a two-save effort, thanks to a collective defensive lockdown by Transy.
With the first-round victory, the Pioneers have earned a rematch with rival Centre, the No. 2 seed who received a first-round bye into the tournament. Both teams last played one another this past Monday, a 4-1 Colonels victory at Pat Deacon Stadium.
Saturday's semifinal match is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time start. The winner of Transy-Centre will go on to play in the SAA Championship Game on Sunday at 12:00 noon Eastern Standard Time.
For more on Transylvania Field Hockey, follow their official twitter @TransyFH