The Royals played some of their best hockey of the year in the first half of Saturday's game against Virginia Wesleyan. But it was a six-minute spell in the second which did them in as the Marlins handed EMU a critical 3-2 ODAC loss.
The women sit in seventh place at 0-3 in conference play, although all six of the teams in front of EMU, including VWC, have at least three wins. Needing to get into the top six for the postseason tournament, Eastern Mennonite (4-7 overall) has five ODAC games remaining to fit into the final two weeks of the regular season.
After an initial surge by the Marlins (5-7 / 3-2 ODAC), EMU took over quickly. Mikayla Martin (Colorado Springs, Colo./Lewis Palmer) fired a close-range shot which was saved, but Emily Price (Hampton, Va./Homeschool) found the rebound and quickly hit the cage for a 1-0 lead just four minutes in.
The women kept up the heat and ended with a 15-4 shot advantage over the first 35 minutes, but settled for a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Virginia Wesleyan came out after the intermission in a different gear, and scored the equalizer in the 43rd minute. Just 69 seconds later, they scored again for a quick 2-1 lead. Then in the 49th minute, the Marlins slapped in their third score to balloon a 3-1 margin.
The Royals righted the ship and mounted their comeback. After a penalty corner, Madeline Mast (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) had a weak side tap in on a drive from Lorraine Armstrong (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) to get the women within one with more than 11 minutes left on the clock. They earned two more corners with a pair of resulting shots, but the equalizer wasn't meant to be.
VWC controlled the shots in the second, 16-6, leaving the Royals with a 21-20 margin for the game. Price led both teams with eight shots, including five on goal. Armstrong added four on target and Mast had a trio.
Senior Hannah Daley (Lothian, Md./Southern) returned to goal for the first time since the middle of 2015 and racked up nine saves.
EMU also honored their three seniors before the game. Lorraine Armstrong has been a starter all three of her seasons at Eastern Mennonite and was named All-ODAC Third Team last fall. Hannah Daley is a versatile player for the Royals, playing 27 of her 50 career games in goal. Mariah Martin (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) has been a four-year starter as a defender, but had her senior campaign cut short by an injury.
All three of the women are on the EMU Dean's List, ODAC All-Academic Team and NFHCA National Academic Squad.
Hall of Honor Inductees
Director of Athletic Dave King also celebrated Jonalyn Denlinger (2002-05) in a halftime ceremony. An All-American in 2004, Denlinger was a four-time All-ODAC First Team and NFHCA All-Region honoree. She was inducted into EMU's Hall of Honor earlier in the day, along with track All-American Megan Mlinarchik (2004-06).
Coach E.A. Jackson said her team's improvement this year has been evident: