GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Gettysburg College tallied the final six goals to erase a four-goal deficit and defeat Middlebury College 9-7 in the third round of the NCAA Division III Championship at Clark Field on Saturday.
The sixth-ranked Bullets (18-2) trailed 7-3 after Laurel Pascal scored the opening goal of the second period for Middlebury (12-6). Gettysburg's defense stepped up and held the Panthers off the board for the remainder of the game while the office steadily chipped away at the deficit. Senior Bailey Beardsley scored the go-ahead goal with 6:39 on the clock and junior Bridget Kenny added an insurance goal defense to send the Bullets into Sunday's regional championship.
"There was no sense of urgency, no sense of panic," said head coach Carol Cantele. "I think they displayed a great sense of composure and didn't have to do more than what they've been doing all season long."
Middlebury, which had won seven of the previous eight meetings with Gettysburg, controlled the tempo early with four of the first five goals. Megan Griffin assisted on back-to-back goals by Liza Herzog and Alli Sciarretta to make it 4-1 at 23:47.
Gettysburg had its opportunities to get on the board as the defense forced the Panthers into a dozen turnovers in the first half, including six on clear attempts. The offense was unable to find its groove, however, as the hosts racked up 14 turnovers and scored just three goals on 13 shots.
After back-to-back tallies by Middlebury, junior Mandy Buell scored the final goal of the opening period to make it 6-3.
The Panthers jumped ahead by four on Pascal's goal with 26:43 left in the game, but Gettysburg rebounded in a big way. The defense stymied the visitors, thanks in large part to freshman goalie Shannon Keeler. After giving up goals on each of Middlebury's first four shot attempts, Keeler thwarted 12 of the next 15 shots on goal. She racked up eight saves in the second half alone to help lift her team.
"Part of being a goalie is bouncing back and I couldn't let my team down," said Keeler. "You've just got to keep pushing."
Senior Kelly Spieker also played an instrumental role in the defensive effort as she finished with a game-high three caused turnovers.
With the defense holding firm, the offense finally found a groove. Senior Kelsey Markiewicz opened the scoring streak with a free-position goal to cut the deficit to 7-4. After goals by Kenny and Buell sliced Middlebury's lead to one, Markiewicz tied the game 7-7 with 15:57 to play.
Keeler stopped Liza Herzog at 10:50 to keep the deadlock. After a nine-minute drought without a goal, Gettysburg jumped in front for the first time as Beardsley converted a one-timer in front of the cage following a pass by sophomore Maggie Connolly.
The Panthers won 10-of-18 draw controls in the contest, but the Bullets secured the most important one as Kenny corralled the ball after the go-ahead goal. The hosts ran over three minutes off the clock before Kenny's insurance goal at 3:13.
Gettysburg won the final draw of the game, but Middlebury was able to get the ball back following a turnover. Katie Ritter fired a shot at the goal, but Keeler plucked the ball out of the air. The Bullets cleared the ball up the field and avoided the defensive pressure in the final seconds.
"I think we had to dig deep and we knew it," said Markiewicz, who finished with three goals, an assist, and two draw controls. "This was an elimination game and once we were down we knew we had to fix something. I think we really displayed Gettysburg lacrosse in the second half."
"These players were getting shut down a little bit, yet they kept chipping away," Cantele said. "Sometimes when things aren't working quite the way you want you can get taken out of the game, but they sure didn't demonstrate that."
Buell finished with two goals, an assist, and two draw controls, while Kenny added two goals and two draw controls. Senior Paige McKenna (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) scooped up five ground balls for the Bullets.
Next up for the Bullets is No. 3 Trinity (Conn.), which cruised past Fredonia State 16-5.
Gettysburg and Trinity will face off on Sunday at 3 p.m. on Clark Field. It is a matchup of recent national champions as the Bullets took the crown in 2011 and the Bantams won it all in 2012. Gettysburg leads the all-time series 3-0, including a 17-3 victory in the NCAA regional final in 2010.