Tigerville, SC – The Crusaders showed out for their seniors in a big way on Friday night as the team blew out the Valkyries from Converse college 19 – 3. The seniors came up huge in the game as Hanna Hawkins (Senior) dazzled the crowd with four goals including a between the legs finish and Sydney Taylor (Senior) finished with six saves including two free-position shot saves that brought the fans in Pepsi Stadium to their feet. The Crusaders played a nearly perfect game as they bested Converse in every aspect of the game posting a +19 in the shooting column, +2 for groundballs, -6 for turnovers, and a +5 for caused turnovers.
The first half went swimmingly for the Crusaders as they scored the first two goals of the game and responded with five goals at the end of the half imposing an insurmountable lead on Converse. Maegan Easler (Freshman) scored the first goal of the game for the Crusaders at the 28-minute mark off of an assist from Brenis Napoli (junior). Easler would return the favor feeding Napoli just two minutes later for a quick hitter inside to put the Crusaders up 2 – 0. The Crusaders scored early and often both on their own and off of the assist. Seven of the nine goals scored in the first half by the Crusaders were assisted. Jillian Chiesa (Junior) scored her first goal of the game at the 22:02 mark; Rachel Kellogg (Junior) then scored off of an assist from Aly Estes (Junior). Chiesa and Kellogg combined for eight goals on the afternoon leading the Crusaders once again. Hawkins added two more goals in the first half to go along with a pair of goals from Kellogg and another from Napoli.
Although the Crusaders played the majority of the game on their offensive end their defense played lights out. In particular, Bridgett Sewell (Sophomore) and Kaitlin Yenson (Junior) played hard-nosed defense keeping the Valkyries out of the heart of the Crusader hub. The duo has been detrimental to opposing offenses causing them to find innovative ways to score. The Crusader defense is backed by one of the best goalies in Conference Carolinas and Division II as a whole. Taylor has been a force in the cage during her time at North Greenville; this season Taylor is leading the team with 29 groundballs and is second on the team with 17 caused turnovers. She is the captain of the defense and the electric spark on the defensive side of the ball.
As the second period rolled around the Crusaders looked to keep their foot on the gas and to build on their lead. Coach Temples could not have asked for a better half from her team as they scored ten out of the 11 goals in the period. Kellogg got the ball rolling scoring the first goal of the half just 33 seconds into the period. Many of the goals that the Crusaders scored in the second half came from unsettled situations that turned into high powered offense. Hawkins added another goal exactly a minute later followed up by two more goals from Brenis Napoli. Kellogg and Chiesa scored goals near the 20-minute mark to push the Crusader lead over ten goals. At the 17:17 mark the Crusaders were working the ball around the goal when Napoli drove to the right side of the cage and found Hawkins in tight. Seeing her small window of opportunity and with her back to the goal, Hawkins placed the ball between her legs and past the keeper for one of the most sensational goals of the season thus far. Amber Newland (Freshman) saw some of her first playing time rewarded with a couple of assisted goals coming late in the second half. As the clock wound down the Crusaders could smell victory and the seniors began to celebrate when Kellogg put the icing on the cake with one final goal to make the score 19 – 3.
Individually, the Crusaders had five multi-goal scorers that included their offensive leaders Chiesa, Kellogg, and Hawkins. Amber Newland and Brenis Napoli rounded out the multi-goal scorers. The seniors showed out on their senior night as Hawkins finished with 4 goals and 2 assists while Sydney Taylor played a complete game finishing with 6 saves.
The Crusaders will now take on Lees-McRae in Tigerville next Tuesday, March 26th. That game is set for a 5 pm draw.