MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Senior Jennifer Tafro scored at 87:23 of the second overtime to lift Montclair State to a 1-0 victory against Mount Holyoke in the first game of the NCAA tournament second round at Sprague Field on Saturday.
With the victory, the top-ranked and top-seeded Red Hawks move to 21-1, while the Lyons conclude their season with an 18-3 mark.
MSU also advances to Sunday's third-round game, which will be played at 1 p.m. against the winner of Saturday's second contest between SUNY New Paltz and Bowdoin.
After an incredible defensive battle, the host Red Hawks clinched the victory as senior Stephanie Lewis corralled the ball and fed it through the circle to Tafro, who banged it in on the left side.
In goal, Mount Holyoke's Liz DiCesare had an outstanding effort, recording 13 saves, including three in the first half and first overtime. She recorded six stops in the second half and made one stop in the second overtime.
MSU freshman Danielle Butrico fired one in less than a minute into the second half but was stopped, while freshman Gianna Moglino sent yet another shot in that was kicked away by DiCesare.
Three consecutive corners by Montclair State showed the strength of the Lyons defense as Tafro got a shot off in each one, which were all blocked in front. Montclair State continued to pressure in the MHC zone and nearly capitalized at 56:30 as Megan Roeloffs corralled a great pass and fired it in, but DiCesare made another kick save to get it out of the zone.
The Lyons began to find their own groove offensively but much like at the other end, the Red Hawks defenders were ready. Off a corner, junior Kirsten Kilburn saw a shot get blocked away, which was quickly followed by a blocked shot off the stick of freshman Charlotte Wagner at 59:32.
Tafro continued to be a presence for the Red Hawks, firing off another shot off the corner that DiCesare was able to kick out at 63:31.
It proved to be a back-and-forth battle during the final four minutes of the contest, but Mount Holyoke had the best chance as senior Victoria Beja-Glasser collected a feed from sophomore Julia Bell and made a quick turn toward goal. She sent in a shot, but Rebecca Brattole made a great point-blank save.
The two teams headed into overtime and both sides had their chances. Kilburn had a near miss to open things up as she fired a shot in on the cage that went just right of Brattole. The Red Hawks battled back and sent several shots in on goal in the final 30 seconds, but DiCesare was outstanding. Despite a last second corner awarded, Montclair State was unable to capitalize and send it to the second overtime.
MSU attacked hard in the second OT, but despite a number of solid plays by the defense, the Lyons could not hold off Tafro.
Brattole registered her 10th shutout of the season.
The Red Hawks held the 27-5 edge in shots and owned a 15-4 advantage in corners.