HARTFORD, Conn. – Juniors Megan Leonhard and Hadley Duncan scored twice each and Trinity’s defense held Colby’s offense to just eight shots, as the Bantams earned a 7-5 victory against the Mules in the NCAA tournament on Sunday afternoon on Robin Sheppard Field. Trinity, ranked No. 5 in the nation, sets a program record for wins with 19 against just one loss with its sixth consecutive triumph, and advances to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time in the program’s history. Trinity breaks the win mark set last season in an 18-1 campaign that ended in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Sheppard. Trinity will play Cortland State, which won, 9-7, today against New Jersey in its NCAA quarterfinal game, in the NCAA semifinals at Montclair State on Saturday, May 19. Middlebury and Salisbury play the early game Saturday with the winners facing off in the finals at Montclair on Sunday, May 20. Colby, ranked No. 8 nationally, ends its season at 15-3 with its fifth consecutive defeat against the Bantams.
“This is so rewarding and exciting,” said a jubilant Trinity Head Coach Kate Livesay (6th Season). “We were able to get the lead in the first half and set the pace of the game, which was important for us. We did not want an up-and-down game, and we were able to possess the ball and win groundballs. This will be the first time Trinity has been this far in the tournament, but that doesn’t change the fact that our expectation from the very beginning was to be here. I am extremely proud of this team and our very special senior class.”
Trailing, 1-0, after a goal by Colby senior tri-captain midfielder Claire Donegan 45 seconds into the contest, Trinity scored three times in a row and five of the next six goals to take a 5-2 lead into the break. Sophomore attacker Shea Kusiak scored the first Bantam goal 3:28 into the game, followed by an unassisted tally by Duncan and a free-position conversion by senior co-captain midfielder Liz Bruno at the 20:19 mark. Junior attacker Kate Pistel fed sophomore attacker Katie Griffin for a Colby goal with 13:52 on the clock, but Leonhard made good on back-to-back assists by junior attackman Kaitlin Hildebrand including the final tally of the first half with 32 seconds remaining.
Mule sophomore attacker Lindsey McKenna brought the visitors to within two goals at 5-3 just under three minutes into the, but Hildebrand answered with a goal from Bruno at the 22:46 mark, and Duncan completed the Trinity scoring with a goal at 12:54. Colby sophomore attacker Alex Mintz made the score, 7-4, with 8:31 remaining on a diving one-timer from classmate Sarah Lux, and Donegan fed rookie midfielder Sara Miller at the 4:41 mark to make it a 7-5 game. The teams turned the ball over back and forth in the next two minutes, and Trinity senior co-captain defender Liza Beckler gave it back to the Bantams for good with a caused turnover and ground ball in front of the Bantam goal to seal the game.
Trinity held a 24-to-8 advantage in shots and a 14-to-8 edge on ground balls, thanks to a stellar defensive effort by Beckler, junior Mallory Hinman, and sophomores Midge Daniel and Lindsey Shepard in front of junior goalie Olivia Whitney. Hildebrand led all scorers with three points on a goal and two assists, while Bruno added one goal and one assist. Beckler scooped a game-high four grounders, while Leonhard totaled three ground balls and three draw controls, and Whitney made one save. Donegan totaled one goal and one helper to go with team-highs of two ground balls, three draw controls and four caused turnovers. Sophomore Michelle Burt was spectacular in the Mule goal, totaling 10 saves including three in a row from close in a 10-second span to keep Colby close in the first half.