Division III women's lacrosse: TCNJ heads to title game after double-overtime victory
SALEM, Va. — Freshman Alexandria Fitzpatrick scored with 4.7 seconds left in the first period of the second overtime to defeat Washington & Lee, 5-4, in the 2017 NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Tournament semifinal match.
The thrilling victory sends the Lions to the national title game to square off against the winner of the Trinity (Conn.) vs. Gettysburg game. The national final is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday in Kerr Stadium on the campus of Roanoke College. It marks the 18th national championship game for the TCNJ women's lacrosse program. It owns a 13-4 mark in those previous games.
Fitzpatrick took a pass from junior Amanda Muller on the right side, drove in and fired a shot past Generals' goalkeeper Elliot Gilbert to end the game and send TCNJ into a wild celebration. The goal ended a fierce and physical defensive battle that was the second-lowest scoring output in Division III women's lacrosse semifinals history.
Washington & Lee came out with great intensity from the start and quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Haley Tucker scored just 1:55 into the match to put W&L on the board. Sara Holland made it a 2-0 game at the 16:45 mark with a goal off a free position.
TCNJ head coach Sharon Pfluger called for a timeout, and just over two minutes later, freshman Olivia Cleale received a free position. She deposited her 13th goal of the year to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The score remained 2-1 into the intermission. Sophomore goalkeeper Miranda Chrone had plenty to do with that, making two tremendous stops in the opening period. Gilbert matched her at the other end, holding the Lions' offense to a single tally in the first 30 minutes of play.
The Generals (19-2) stretched their lead to 3-1 just over 12 minutes into the second half. Maggie Waxter took a feed from Holland at the top of the circle and found the back of the net to give W&L a two-goal cushion.
Mia Blackman, who was a persistent source of leadership on the field throughout the game, took a pass from Cleale with 15:15 remaining. She somehow found space to get off a shot as Gilbert charged, leaping up firing the ball past the goalie to trim the deficit to one goal.
With 8:02 remaining, General Cordella Peters was called for a dangerous play on sophomore Abby Flagler and was sent off with a yellow card. Just 17 seconds later, sophomore Erin Harvey received a free position and beat Gilbert up to tie the contest 3-3. It was the first time TCNJ was not trailing since the 28:05 mark of the first half.
The Lions gained their first lead when Muller jumped on a loose ball off a rebound in front, and swiped in her 29th goal of the season and seventh of the tournament. TCNJ owned its first lead of the game with just 4:16 remaining.
W&L, however, would not surrender. With the Lions holding possession in their offensive third, Gilbert raced out to intercept a pass with 1:28 left on the clock. The Generals went down the field, and with 47 remaining in regulation, All-American Haley Soutter found Holland with a pass which she rifled a sidearm shot in front to even the score and ultimately send it to overtime.
TCNJ controlled the first three minutes of OT, forcing Gilbert to make a save off a shot by Harvey. The Generals held possession in the second three minutes, but a turnover with 12 seconds left did not allow them to get off a shot.
The Lions kept possession for the duration of the second overtime period. Blackman had a free position shot skip wide, but a ground ball pick-up by Muller kept the ball in the offensive end. Muller heard Fitzpatrick yelling for the ball, delivered a pass, and the freshman attacker capitalized on the opportunity with the biggest goal of her life to send TCNJ to the final.
Chrone made three saves in the game, while Gilbert finished with seven. The Lions held a 16-11 advantage in shots, while the Generals held a distinct advantage (14-8) on ground balls.
The Lions faced Gettysburg on March 30 and edged the Bullets 7-6. The last time they faced Trinity was in the 2016 NCAA tournament regional final, with the Bantams coming away with an 11-6 victory.