Melissa Cox more than doubled her scoring output for the season with her hat trick on Saturday. (Photo by Wayne Gehman)

Royals headed back to playoffs with big win at Virginia Wesleyan

EMU’s field hockey women clinched an ODAC Tournament bid Saturday afternoon, romping over Virginia Wesleyan 5-2 in Virginia Beach. The Royals scored the first five goals of the game to earn a return trip to the ODAC’s top six after missing out last year for the first time in program history.

Sophomore Melissa Cox (Mountville, Pa./Hempfield) had a big hand in the victory, as she charted her first career hat trick. The midfielder scored the game’s first goal just 5:35 in, then added a second unassisted score in the 33rd minute.

The Royals earned a penalty corner just before the half and scored in stoppage time to lead 3-0 at the break.  Jenessa Derstine (Harleysville, Pa./Christopher Dock) caged the goal with an assist from Carol Brinkley (Chester, Va./Thomas Dale).

In the 42nd minute, Derstine set up Michelle Zook (Allensville, Pa./Belleville Mennonite). Then Brinkley picked up her second helper in the 50th minute, as Cox scored for her hat trick.

Virginia Wesleyan got their goals in the 57th and 64th minutes, but it was far too late to dig out of the hole.

Mary Beth Danaher (Matoaca, Va./Matoaca) made 10 saves between the pipes.  Mandy Stowers (Powhatan, Va./Powhatan) and Camille Williams (Media, Pa./Delaware County Christian) each notched a defensive save.

The Royals are now 4-3 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and are fifth heading into their regular season finale at first-place Lynchburg on Wednesday. The win pushes the women two full games ahead of Washington and Lee, which is sixth. Bridgewater is a half-game ahead of EMU at 4-2, while Shenandoah is 5-2. Both teams hold tie-breakers over the women, meaning the Royals will likely be playing as the fifth seed in the ODAC Tournament, which starts next Saturday.