UC repeats as E8 champs, heading back to NCAAs


HOBOKEN, N.J. - The Utica College field hockey team won its second straight Empire 8 Conference title Sunday as it defeated No. 4 seed St. John Fisher 5-2. Junior Hannah Mackey (Locke, NY/Moravia Central) was named the tournament's most valuable player after tallying two goals and one assist in the final.

St. John Fisher got on the board in the 13th minute as Caitlin Allen deflected a shot from Alexis Zakala off the corner for her first goal of the season. The Pioneers rebounded eight minutes later as Mackey netted her first of the game, assisted by Colleen Dowling (Fairport, NY/Fairport). The Pioneers took a 2-1 lead in the 31st minute as Alaina Stojkovski (Liverpool, NY/Cicero-North Syracuse) took a feed from Nikki Kieffer (Rome, NY/Rome Free Academy) off a penalty corner and fired home her 10th of the year. The Pioneers went into the half with a 17-4 shot advantage including a 13-1 run after the Cardinals scored.

UC continued its momentum as Mackey cushioned the lead just 13 seconds into the second half with her team-leading 18th goal of the season. The Pioneers added goals from Louise Steele-Norton (Avondale, PA/Millbrook School) and Stojkovski to all but seal the victory. Fisher was able to net another tally on a penalty stroke in the 61st minute, but it was not enough as the Pioneers held on for the 5-2 victory.

Ally Sanders (Endicott, NY/Maine Endwell) tallied one assist on the day and Kells Casey (Sandwich, MA/Kimball Union Academy) made six saves in the win, while Danielle Famolaro, a native of Rome, had seven saves for Fisher, who knocked off top seed Stevens 3-1 Saturday to advance to the final.  Famolaro, who had 19 saves in that game, and another Rome native, Stacie Skidmore, were named to the Empire 8 All-Tournament team.

UC moved to 16-4 on the year, while capturing the Empire 8 title and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

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