Cortland field hockey blanks New Paltz, 5-0, to clinch SUNYAC top seed

Jess Gibaldi scored twice to increase her team-leading total to 13 goals (Darl Zehr Photography)

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Juniors Jessica Welsh (Hamilton) and Jess Gibaldi (Westbury/W.T. Clarke) each scored two goals and junior Kailynne Reinoehl (Lititz, PA/Warwick) made 10 saves for the shutout as Cortland defeated visiting New Paltz, 5-0.

With the win, Cortland (13-3, 5-1 SUNYAC) finishes tied for first with Oneonta in the final SUNYAC regular-season standings and will be the top seed for the conference postseason tournament. Cortland will host fourth-seeded Geneseo in the semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 1. New Paltz (5-10, 4-2 SUNYAC) will be the third seed and will play at Oneonta in the semifinals, also on Nov. 1. The highest surviving seed will host the title game on Saturday, Nov. 4.

Gibaldi finished with two goals and one assist. Megan O'Brien (Carmel) added a goal and Anna Branch (Clifton Park/Shenendehowa) picked up two assists.

New Paltz goalie Megan Gangewere made 14 saves, and Samantha Ackerman registered three defensive saves for the Hawks.

Cortland opened the scoring in the 24th minute when Welsh took a shot that deflected off a defender's leg and found its way into the cage. The lead grew to 2-0 just a couple of minutes later when a crossing pass from the right by Branch found its way through traffic to Gibaldi for a shot into a basically empty cage.

The Branch-Gibaldi combination struck again with 2:20 left before halftime on a similar play. Branch worked her way free near the right end line and crossed a pass to Gibaldi, who buried a shot for her team-high 13th goal of the season.

Welsh notched her second goal of the game and ninth of the season just over 16 minutes into the second half. A crossing pass from the right end line was cleared away by a New Paltz defender, but the ball went directly to Welsh on the left side and she blasted in a shot to give Cortland a 4-0 lead. O'Brien closed the scoring with 1:41 left when she scored from close range off an initial ball hit by Gibaldi.

New Paltz's best scoring chances came with less than 20 minutes left as two Justine O'Reilly shots hit off the post. Both plays came during a pair of flurries in which Reinoehl also made a total of five saves.

Cortland will host Nazareth on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 4 p.m. in a non-league game.

Cortland 5, New Paltz 0

Scoring Summary (Goals-Assists):

New Paltz: no scoring
Cortland: Jess Gibaldi 2-1, Jessica Welsh 2-0, Megan O'Brien 1-0, Anna Branch 0-2

Halftime: Cortland 3, New Paltz 0
Shots: Cortland 29, New Paltz 14
Penalty Corners: Cortland 9, New Paltz 4
Saves: Megan Gangewere (New Paltz) 14 (5 GA in 70:00); Kailynne Reinoehl (Cortland) 10 (0 GA in 70:00)

Record after game: New Paltz (Hawks) 5-10, 4-2 SUNYAC; Cortland (Red Dragons) 13-3, 5-1 SUNYAC