SALEM, Va. -- Runners-up are not usually as upbeat as Lock Haven was following its 7-5 loss to Adelphi in Saturday’s NCAA Division II national championship game.
This, however, was one of those rare exceptions. Sure, some tears fell, but neither coach Kristen Selvage or her team could be too disappointed with how the day went.Adelphi -- which won its sixth national title since 2004 -- had not been held to less than 10 goals all season. At halftime, the top-ranked Panthers led 2-0. Midway through the first half of its 17-10 win against two-time defending champion LIU Post, Adelphi had already scored six times.
“Actually, I thought two goals was too many,” Selvage said, which made all of her players joining her at the postgame news conference chuckle.
“It was a great defensive effort on my girls’ part to hold Adelphi to seven goals,” Selvage added. “I'm not sure that's been done this season (it hadn’t). It was a great performance all the way around.”
Adelphi was stymied regularly by the face-guard approach the Eagles used. And when the Panthers did break free for shots, goalkeeper Chrissy Baffuto was ready to make stops – she had five in the first half, three of those coming on one-on-one situations.
“Every save a goalie makes boosts your confidence,” Baffuto said. “But the defense around me was playing great. It’s like one save at a time, and one ground ball – that kind of makes the who team’s confidence go up.”
So with the defense playing as well as it was, what Lock Haven needed was a spark from its offense, which never showed up in the first half. Lock Haven only got six shots off in the first half, and some of them were pretty routine saves for Adelphi keeper Taylor Hayes. But that changed in the second half.
“In the first half, you saw us a little game-shy on offense -- a little bit stunned,” Selvage said. “We had four players who were actively trying to get things done on offense, and three players that were a little bit frozen. We talked to them in the second half and got them moving.”
When the movement improved, so did the scoring opportunities. Adelphi scored first in the second half to go up 3-0, but then the Eagles scored four of the next five goals and were tied with the Panthers 4-4 with 15 minutes to play.
Adelphi recovered after Lock Haven tied the score. With help of senior Devan Crimi and tournament most outstanding player Alexa Froccaro, the Panthers regained the lead with 13:41 to play, and did not give it up after that. But even in the last minute of play, Lock Haven had possession of the ball and was working on putting together another rally.
Before the game we talked a lot about our goals and our dreams and our wants, and how much we care about each other as a family,” Selvage said. “That's what it was that held us together all season long, and it's what kept the score what it was today. I really thought it was going to rally us back into this game.
“It could have been a very different game, if just a few more things would have gone our way for us.”