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Rachel Fleig
Rachel Fleig would score the game winning goal in the first stanza.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Field Hockey Wins Regular Season Finale

On a day where the team honored their two seniors and three fifth-year players, the App State Mountaineers (14-4, 6-1 MAC) racked up their ninth straight win, beating the Saint Louis Billikens (3-13, 1-6 A10) 4-0 at Dr. Jan C. Watson Field at the Brandon. & Erica M. Adcock Field Hockey Complex Sunday.

The Mountaineers used two second-quarter goals to jump out to a first-half lead and never looked back. Rachel Fleig, who was honored pregame, racked up her first goal since Aug. 25, in the 18th minute, proving to be the decider in the contest.

“I love this team so much,” Fleig said. “I couldn’t do anything without them. They really picked it up today and I was just lucky to be there in the end to score.”

Head coach Emily Dinsmore has her team playing their best hockey of the season at the perfect time as App State has outscored their opponents 26-6 over the last nine games. The team pitched their fifth shutout of the year on Sunday, marking their fourth in the last six games.

“I’m so thankful that we could honor Grace and Leah today with a win,” Dinsmore said. “They’re such hard workers and they have been so determined and persistent this year and they always look out for their teammates. Just to rally around them and get the win today speaks so much of the team and the family atmosphere that we have.”

The Mountaineers generated offense early and often in the regular season finale, controlling the ball for much of the first period and pinning the Billiken defense back on their side of the field. Sarah Callery got the shots tally started for App State, firing a quick one at the SLU keeper, who saved it.

Off Callery’s shot attempt, the Mountaineers drew a penalty corner in the fifth minute, their first of 13 on the day. Off Florine Koopman’s insert, Charlotte Bosma attempted her first shot of the day, having it blocked and resulting in another corner.

On the second first-quarter corner, Bridget Donovan took a shot that missed wide. The Mountaineers would outshoot the Billikens 6-1 in the first period, but SLU keeper Kendyl Underwood and the defense stopped each chance.

The Billikens found a great chance to score late in the first period as the ball was advanced up the field. Addie Clark came out to defend the attack, but committed a foul on the SLU player, resulting in a penalty stroke for the Billikens. On the resulting foul shot taken by Lauren Pendergast, Clark would make a terrific diving save to keep SLU off the scoreboard and keep the game scoreless through the first 15 minutes.

App State would come out hot in the second quarter, scoring just three minutes into the period. After Lise Boekaar and Sarah Farrell each attempted shots that missed the cage, Rachel Fleig, who made her first start of the season on Sunday, found paydirt, slapping a shot that deflected off Underwood and into the cage. Fleig’s goal marked the ninth straight game App State has drawn first blood in a game.

The Billikens would respond immediately after Fleig’s goal, taking the ball straight down the field and testing Clark in the cage. Abby Vidas and Brooke Mason would fire shots at the fifth-year keeper, but the defense was there to back her up as Clark would pick up a save and end the chance.

The Black & Gold weren’t content with the one-goal lead over the Billikens as they pushed the ball into their attacking 25 and drew their fifth penalty corner of the contest. Off the insert by Koopman, Bosma’s initial shot was blocked, but there to rebound the deflection was Lise Boekaar who slapped one on cage that snuck past Underwood for the goal. Boekaar has been on a hot streak over the team’s nine-game winning streak as she has scored all five of her goals during the streak.

Boekaar’s goal would be the final score of the half as App State played their way to a 2-0 lead after the first 30 minutes. It was an impressive display of offense for the Black & Gold in the half as they outshot the Billikens 12-3.

App State continued its strong play coming out of the halftime break, drawing three penalty corners within the first five minutes and firing four shots off those chances. Grace Ball got in on the action, shooting her first two shots of the game, having one saved by Underwood who had six saves in the contest.

The Billikens would not back down from the Mountaineers, streaking down the field quickly after the corner chances and getting the ball into the shooting circle for the first time in the half. Brooke Mason would shoot one on cage, but Clark, the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Week, picked up her third save of the contest and knocked it away to end the chance.

It was another strong quarter of play for the Mountaineers as they would get one more chance to score late in the period. Koopman, who is another player on a hot streak over the team’s recent winning streak, fired a ball on cage, but Underwood was there to collect the save.

When the third quarter horn sounded, App State had paced itself to a 2-0 lead and had outshot the Billikens 17-4 through three periods.

Not content with the two-goal lead after the first 45 minutes, Fleig and the offense looked to push the tempo as the fourth quarter started, resulting in the team’s third goal of the contest. This time, Charlotte Bosma was the goal scorer, sneaking one past Underwood and through the cage. Bosma’s goal was her sixth this season, tying her with Kuzmicky for the team lead, and was her second score in the last five games.

Three minutes later, the Mountaineers would strike for a fourth goal after Sophia Baxter made a terrific play on defense to force a turnover and dribbled into the circle. Baxter would force the issue once into the shooting circle, slapping a hard pass at the front post that found Fleig’s stick and the net. Fleig’s fourth-quarter goal marked her first multi-goal game of the season and first multi-goal game since she scored twice against Ohio in 2019.

The Billikens would not be fazed by App State’s two early goals in the fourth period as they would trek down to their offensive circle and shoot at Clark but missed wide. SLU couldn’t generate much offense on Sunday as the Mountaineers played sound defense and turned away most every chance the Billikens had on offense.

SLU was unable to do much of anything on offense to close out the game and when the final horn sounded, App State had picked up a 4-0 win for its 14th win of the year and fifth shutout of the season. The win on Sunday ties a program record for wins in a season that has been reached two times before.

“It’s not easy to win hockey games,” Dinsmore said. “To go on this stretch is really encouraging and gives us a lot of momentum going into the tournament. We’re ready and excited for Friday and we’re ready to go out there and put our best foot forward against Kent State.”

App State will turn their attention on the MAC Tournament where they will face the Kent State Golden Eagles in the second semifinal match on Friday. First touch from the Miami Field Hockey Complex is slated for 2 p.m.