PHILADELPHIA –Sophomore Olivia Shoemaker (Telford, Pa. / Souderton) scored two goals and the La Salle defense earned its fourth shutout of the season as the Explorers defeated Saint Louis, 3-0, and clinched a berth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The victory is the fifth in the past seven games for the Explorers, who advance to Friday’s A-10 Semifinal hosted by Saint Joseph’s at either 11 AM or 2 PM.
“We worked so hard for today’s win and to make it into A-10s,” Shoemaker said. “I’m so proud of the team and so happy we were able to do this for the seniors.”
The Blue and Gold (8-9, 3-2 A-10) turned on its play over the past month of the season and will head into the postseason having outscored its opponents 11-6 over the past seven games. The Explorers have also won three one-goal victories during that stretch.
In just head coach Michelle Marks’ third season, the Explorers will continue play in November after contributions from all four classes. La Salle also owns the league’s most balanced offense, with 10 different Explorers having scored goals this season, and the A-10’s second best defense statistically.
Shoemaker led the hosts with a goal in each half and now leads the team with six tallies. She broke the scoreless tie in the 26th minute after taking a pass from sophomore Mariel Papa (Gibbsboro, N.J. / Eastern) and finding the back of the cage. It is Papa’s third assist in the last two contests.
Two minutes after halftime, Shoemaker gave La Salle some insurance and a 2-0 lead on her unassisted goal.
Senior Becca Freed (Allentown, Pa. / William Allen) scored her second goal of the season when she defelected a junior Becca Chylack shot off a penalty corner. Junior Neelam Kumar also was credited with an assist.
The La Salle defense kept Saint Louis (3-15, 0-5 A-10) off the scoreboard and away from the crease, leaving freshman Lisa Shaffer (Hershey, Pa. / Lower Dauphin) to make just one save for her third shutout of the season.
The Explorers out-shot SLU, 11-4, and had a 5-3 advantage in penalty corners. The Billikens’ Megan Ambrose made five saves in defeat.
Massachusetts, Richmond, and Temple have clinched the other three spots in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Seeding will be determined following Sunday’s regular season finales.
Field hockey is the second fall sport to clinch a spot in the A-10 Tournament, joining undefeated women’s soccer, in what has been an outstanding fall season for the Explorers. Men’s soccer is currently tied for first in the conference, while the men’s and women’s cross country teams were the preseason pick to win the A-10 title, scheduled for Saturday morning.
“We’re going to keep working hard to give La Salle field hockey the name we deserve,” Shoemaker said.
The Blue and Gold will wrap up the regular season on Sunday with a 1 PM meeting at Richmond. Live statistics and video will be available.