CORTLAND, N.Y. – Junior Alex Spark scored the game-winning goal with 4.6 seconds remaining as TCNJ used a late second-half rally to edge Amherst on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The win puts the fourth-ranked Lions (16-3) into the regional finals against the host SUNY Cortland. Second-ranked Cortland (19-1) advanced earlier in the day with a 12-5 triumph against Mary Washington.
Cortland and TCNJ met earlier this season, with the Red Dragons coming away with a tight 9-8 win. The Red Dragons enter tomorrow’s game riding an 18-game winning streak.
Seventh-ranked Amherst finished its season at 13-5.
TCNJ trailed 6-3 with less than 20 minutes left in the game and sophomore Jen Garavente ignited the rally with her second goal of the game with an even 18 minutes on the clock.
After the Lord Jeffs made it 7-4, the Lions reeled off the game’s final four goals. Spark accounted for all four goals during that run with her first two closing the gap to a goal and she tied the game with 2:06 remaining with an assist from classmate Trenna Hill.
That goal set the stage for Spark’s heroics in the final seconds, which came on a restart following an Amherst foul.
Spark led all players with five goals, raising her season total to 76. That total is the fourth best in program history.
The first half was just as tight with the teams being tied three times. TCNJ opened the scoring on a goal by Garavente, but the Lord Jeffs came right back with a pair from Alex Philie.
Hill knotted the game at 2-2 as she recorded her 40th goal of the season.
Amherst again forged in front by a goal, only to have Spark get it back for the Lions with her goal coming with 12:37 before the half.
Philie added her third of the game with 6:31 left before the half and that 4-3 Amherst lead held through the remainder of the half.
TCNJ’s defense also came up big not allowing the Lord Jeffs a goal in the final 15:30 of the game.
Senior Leigh Mitchell contributed in a variety of ways with a team-high seven ground balls, two caused turnovers, and an assist. That assist gave her 100 points on the season making her the first player in program history to record three 100-point seasons.
Defenders Claire Engelman and Jennamarie Colicchia also made key plays as they both caused two turnovers.