SALEM, Va. – Lock Haven has earned the right to play for the national championship after downing Lindenwood 10-9 (OT) on Saturday in NCAA Division II Semifinal action.
The Lady Eagles (19-2) held off a furious second-half surge by Lindenwood (15-4) and rallied late in regulation to the tie game. Kelly Hamilton capped the comeback by scoring the game-winner with 1:49 left in overtime to give LHU its 17th straight win and propel Lock Haven into its second national championship game in the last five seasons.
Down 9-8 late, Rachel Ward scored with just 1:33 left in regulation to tie the game.
Following Ward's late game-tying goal, Lindenwood had a chance to win, but Chrissy Baffuto made a brilliant kick save with 16 seconds left in the game to preserve the tie. Baffuto was on hand to make another huge stop 2:10 into overtime.
Ward and Baffuto's late-game brilliance set the stage for Hamilton's fireworks in overtime.
Ward led all scorers with four goals, while Hamilton finished with the hat trick. Jessica Pandolf added two goals, which helped her tie the LHU all-time single season record with 78.
Shannon Bissnette added a goal and two assists.
Chelsea Borrino was a huge key for Lock Haven, as she dished out a game-high five assists, including four in the second half.
Jenna Dingler added an assist.
Baffuto finished five saves, including four in the second half.
Lindenwood opened the scoring just 47 seconds into the contest on a goal from Melissa Menchella, but the Lady Eagles were even quicker to respond. Just 13 seconds later, Pandolf scored at the 29:00 minute mark to tie the game at 1-1.
Following Pandolf's goal, Lock Haven rattled off three more to take a 4-1 lead with 17:24 left in the opening half. Ward scored a pair of goals in that span to help spark LHU's attack.
Melissa Smith put Lindenwood back on the board, stopping Lock Haven's four-goal run. Smith's goal came with 15:27 left in the half, as LHU still led 4-2.
The Haven once again responded with back-to-back goals from Bissnette and Hamilton and led 6-2 with 3:49 left in the first.
The Lady Lions capped the first-half scoring on Menchella's second goal of the game. She converted a free-position attempt with just two seconds left in the half as the Lady Eagles took the 6-3 lead into the break.
Ward opened the second-half scoring with a goal less than four minutes in, putting Lock Haven up 7-3.
Jordyn Constance scored for LWU and made it 7-4, but again Lock Haven was once again quick to answer and Pandolf's second goal of the game put LHU up 8-4.
Lindenwood found new life however and with 17:50 left in the game the Lady Lions went on a five-goal run to take a 9-8 lead. LWU's go-ahead goal came with 6:18 left.
As Lindenwood looked to stall over the final six minutes of the game, Melinda Wojt grabbed a ground ball after a Lady Lion turnover to set up the game-tying strike.
Wojt and Kelly Close both had three ground balls in the win, while Christina Hawkins added two caused turnovers sparking another tremendous defensive effort from The Haven.
Hamilton's game-winner came with 1:49 left in the six-minute overtime period. With seconds left in overtime, LHU forced another turnover giving the Lady Eagles the thrilling win.