2016-11-09 / Sports

Nor’easters on to NCAA tournament

ALEX SPONSELLER, ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR

BIDDEFORD — The University of New England field hockey team recently topped Western New England 7-0 to capture the program’s third-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference championship.

The Nor’easters have been rolling since the beginning of the regular season, capping off the regular season with a 17-3 record (12-0 in the CCC), and won two playoff rounds by a combined score of 14-1.

UNE will take on UMaine Farmington in the first round of the NCAA playoffs tonight, and UNE coach Danielle Collins is excited for what her team has accomplished.

“This is a huge step for our program to be able to show that our regular season 12-0 (CCC) record was really true,” said Collins. “Being able to go in to the semifinals and then the championship and be able to control from the start was great. It was an amazing day for the program and all 22 players who had a part in that title.”

A large component of UNE’s success is mental fortitude, as well as a strong team bond that is apparent both on and off the field.

“Mental toughness – we have been able to overcome a lot when we do not beat ourself up first. They have great chemistry throughout the team, and it shows both on and off the field,” said Collins. “Being able to have this type of atmosphere allows for the team to go out and have fun with each other and play the game they love.”

Collins believes that her team is prepared for the increase in competition, especially considering that the Nor’easters have faced three nationally-ranked opponents this year.

“I do feel we are well-equipped to face a high level of competition. That is why I build our non-conference schedule to have some of the best teams in the nation. It prepares us for the NCAA,” said Collins.

UMaine Farmington enters tonight’s match on a five-game winning streak, and the Nor’easters are expecting a tough test against one of Maine’s best teams.

“It is going to be a battle against UMaine Farmington. They are peaking at the right time of the season and will come in fighting,” said Collins. “It will be a fun day having two Maine teams competing against one another.”

— Associate Sports Editor Alex Sponseller can be reached at asponseller@journaltribune.com or at 282-1535 ext. 323. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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