Courtesy of Juniata Sports Information
TOWSON, Md. – The 2016-17 season marks the 10 year anniversary for the Landmark Conference. As part of the buildup to each sport's championship season, fans were asked to select their favorite moment from the first decade from a list created by members of the conference. Each winning moment will be announced prior to the conference championship.
After the final round of voting, Juniata's 2014 field hockey championship game received 57 percent of the votes to win the top moment. Elizabethtown's 600th win was second with 26 percent of the votes and Catholic's advancing to the Elite 8 was voted third.
Juniata field hockey began and ended their week by defeating conference rival Catholic in double overtime games to dethrone the reigning champions. Freshman Katie Alexander scored the game winning golden goal on a one-timer from Allison Groft to claim the Landmark crown for the first time since 2010, ending Catholic's three-year title run.
Despite Catholic dominating the game, the Eagles hung around and kept themselves within striking distance to get the win. The Cardinals had ample amounts of opportunities to score, with 19 corners to Juniata's none. Catholic outshot the Blue and Gold 21-1, proving that defense truly wins championships. Kortney Showers and Kelsey Leibelsperger each had defensive saves, while senior Julianne Jones proved that she is one of the top keepers in the nation. Facing off against one of the best goalies in the conference, Jones had a tremendous game in the cage for the Eagles as she made six saves, five coming in overtime. Her strong play has carried the Eagles all season and she came up huge tonight for her team.
Playing in their third double overtime game of the week, as well as the eighth overtime game of the season, the Eagles showed the poise and resiliency that has characterized this team all season. Even when down one of their top defenders in overtime, the Eagles were never deterred. Head coach Caroline Gillich spoke about her team's grit after the game,
"We were up against the ropes for 97 minutes until we finally unleashed the blow that knocked them out and scored that goal" said head coach Caroline Gillich. "I could not be more proud of this group of women, who kept believing through everything that happened in the game. This was truly, one of the most difficult games that we've ever played.
"Starting the week and ending the week with a win over Catholic in the conference championship and in between beating E-town is absolutely phenomenal. Absolutely, the biggest shutout we've ever had for sure. Defense wins championships. The defense truly won the championship."
Juniata had only one shot, but it would prove to be the most important one of the game as Alexander scored the game-winner. The forward, a freshman, has played like an upper classman all season. She finished the season third on the team in goals scored and has been a major factor in the team's run to the title. The win marks the fifth time Juniata has won the Landmark Conference title and the fifth time the Eagles defeated Catholic on their turf to claim the title. The victory was the 200th of Gillich's career.
"Just to share the field with each one of these women and to watch them battle through everything that they did and come out victorious," said Gillich. "It was such an exciting day, such an exciting week."