Late scoring surge lifts Tufts to third national-semifinal appearance
GENEVA, N.Y. -- Tufts scored twice in the final 20 minutes to overcome a halftime deficit and take a 2-1 win against Bowdoin in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday at William Smith.
Tufts advances to its third NCAA semifinal and first since 2009. The Jumbos improve to 17-2 on the year and will face DePauw in the national semifinals next Saturday in Geneva, N.Y.
The Polar Bears finish their season with a record of 16-4 and, for just the second time in the past eight years, will miss out on the national semifinals.
Tufts had the first great chance 10 minutes in, as a penalty corner resulted in a bouncing ball to the right side of the cage. Lia Sagerman put a stick on it, but the ball caromed off the post out of bounds.
Bowdoin rebounded with a push downfield, earning a penalty corner of their own. A scramble in front came to Katie Riley on the left side of the net. Riley lifted the ball to Lauren Schroeder on the back post, who knocked it home for a 1-0 lead at 10:27.
Tufts had a sustained possession with about 10 minutes remaining and had a pair of nice chances that were both kick-saved by Kayla Lessard to maintain the one-goal edge. Bowdoin pushed downfield with under three minutes left in the period and were awarded a penalty stroke with 2:30 left on a transition play. But Brianna Keenan made a diving stick save on the stroke attempt to keep it a one-goal deficit at intermission.
The teams traded possession to open the second half before Bowdoin garnered a great chance off a penalty corner with 23 minutes remaining. Brooke Phinney's initial shot was blocked, but her rebound attempt slipped through the Tufts defense. Rachel Gerhardt came to the rescue for the Jumbos, swatting the ball off the goal line to keep it 1-0 Polar Bears.
Moments later, Gerhardt came up big again, ripping a shot from the right side of the circle that Chelsea Yogerst redirected in front to deadlock the score with 19:52 remaining. Tufts took the lead 10 minutes later, as a hard shot from Gerhardt off a corner was saved by Lessard. The ball came out to the middle of the circle where Dakota Sikes-Keilp slipped a turn-around shot that skimmed inside the right post with 8:30 remaining.
Bowdoin had two penalty corners in the closing moments, including one with no time remaining, but could not covert as the Jumbos held on to the win.
Lessard made six saves for Bowdoin, who were outshot 11-9 by the Jumbos. Keenan made two saves for the Jumbos. The final penalty corner count was 8-6 in favor of Bowdoin.
The Jumbos have a 1-2 record at the national semifinals. In 2008, they defeated Messiah 5-2 in the semis to advance to the championship game. They lost to Bowdoin 3-2 in double overtime in the '08 NCAA final. In 2009, Tufts fell 1-0 to Salisbury in the national semis.
Tufts had lost its last five postseason games against the Polar Bears dating back to 2000 before Sunday.