Three late goals vault Trinity (Conn.) back into NCAA championship game
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Trinity (Conn.) scored the game's final three goals to turn a 6-5 second-half deficit into an 8-6 win against Cortland State in the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship Semifinals Saturday afternoon. Defending champion Trinity, which received two goals and three assists from junior attacker Shea Kusiak, will play Salisburys in a rematch of last year's NCAA Final Sunday at noon. The undefeated Seagulls edged Middlebury 8-7 in the other semifinal game to reach their second-consecutive tourney final. Trinity, which downed Salisbury, 8-7 in the 2012 NCAA Finals, wins its 29th game in a row dating back to last season and improves to 21-0 on the season. Cortland State, playing in its third consecutive NCAA semifinals, closes its season at 22-1 with its first loss in 19 games.
Trinity was trailing 6-5 at 6:42 into the second half when Trinity first-year attacker Molly Cox answered to tie the contest at 6-6 with 14:21 remaining on the clock. Bantam senior tri-captain midfielder Megan Leonhard passed the ball from one wing to the other to Kusiak who found Cox all by herself directly in front of Red Dragon senior goalie Shauna Hutchinson and Cox faked high and shot low to score the ball. Fellow Trinity rookie Martha Griffin found senior attacker Hadley Duncan ahead of the pack for a Trinity goal in transition, giving Trinity its first lead of the second half with 8:15 on the clock, and Griffin scored her second goal of the game less than a minute later to give the Bantams a two-goal cushion.
"This was a great game, not our cleanest effort, but Cortland does not allow teams to play a pretty game," said Trinity Head Coach Kate Livesay. "We had to tighten things up defensively when we got down early, but I felt that once we were able to get the ball we would be alright. Having outstanding senior leadership at all positions has allowed us to get this far."
Cortland State took a 3-0 lead in the first 5:32, as senior midfielder Maria Di Fato and Geremia both scored from close, and sophomore midfielder Emma Hayes-Hurley tallied while the Bantams played a player down due to a yellow card. Trinity scored its first goal when Cox scored from Kusiak after the initial close-range shot by Leonhard was saved by Hutchinson. Leonhard ended a 6:42 scoring drought by both teams with a free-position goal with 13:38 left in the first half, and Griffin tied the score with a free-position shot into the lower left of the net while the Bantams had an extra player.
Kusiak gave Trinity its first lead with 6:19 left before the break, slipping a side-arm shot past Hutchinson while running across the front of the net from right to left and leaving her feet to get the shot past her defenders. Sophomore midfielder Emma Hayes-Hurley halted a stretch of just under 22 minutes of scoreless play for the Red Dragons to knot the game at 4-4 with 2:30 left before intermission. Di Fato picked up a ground ball after one of eight saves by Trinity freshman backstop Emily Mooney and fed Hayes-Hurley inside the circle. Trinity sophomore midfielder Caroline Hayes recorded the only shot over the final 2:30, missing wide, and the teams went into halftime tied at 4-apiece. Cortland held a decided 8-1 advantage on draw controls in the first 30 minutes, while Trinity had 15 ground balls to nine for the Red Dragons.
Trinity turned the tables on the draw in the second half, winning six of seven, and finished with a 23-18 advantage on ground balls. The teams combined to take 37 shots and commit 61 fouls. Hayes and rookie defender Ashley Stewart paced the Bantams with four ground balls apiece, while senior defender Hillary McNamara collected two ground balls, two caused turnovers, and two draw controls. Mooney, making her first start of the post-season, also caused a pair of turnovers. Senior Meg Rowe scooped four grounders, while freshman midfielder Tara Monaghan added two ground balls and a game-high three draw controls, and senior defender Jamie Flood had three caused turnovers for the Red Dragons. Hutchinson made six saves in the Cortland State goal.