All season long the College’s field hockey team had been looking for a defining win over a top 10-ranked team. The Lions finally succeeded on Saturday — also Senior Day — with a 1-0 victory over No. 10-ranked SUNY Cortland.
The Lions have now faced five teams who are currently ranked in the top-10 of the Kookaburra/NFHCA Division III National Coaches Poll, but Cortland was the first top 10-ranked team the Lions defeated.
“We lost to Messiah, but we had them with 20 minutes left in the game,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “We lost to Ursinus, but they won in the last two minutes of the game. Our game against Salisbury we lost 4-1, but the stats were dead even. Our loss to Eastern we didn’t play well. So, (Cortland) is a big win for us. We’re really happy about it.”
Pfluger had made comments a week ago about how she wanted her team to play strong collectively throughout an entire game and that is exactly what she got on Saturday.
“I was really happy with the way we played,” Pfluger said. “I just think our timing was off in the first half, but we played a really strong second half. I think they held up strong.”
The score may have been close, but Lions completely outplayed their counterparts the entire game.
The Lions ended the day with 15 shots-on-cage, while only allowing the Red Dragons to put six shots towards junior goalkeeper Shannon Syciarz.
The Lions had their share of opportunities to score earlier in the game, but the deciding goal was delivered by junior forward Kathleen Notos 10 minutes into the second half.
“I think it’s a big team effort and we all want to win,” Notos said. “We just create opportunities and I’m just there to clean it up.”
The crowd erupted as Notos swept the ball past senior goalkeeper Ashley Hughes and time literally came to a stop. The game clock stopped 24:16 after Notos goal and the officials had to stop play until the problem was resolved and then had to agree on the correct time to put up on the clock.
“I don’t know what happened,” Pfluger said. “It hasn’t happened all season.”
The Lions had a chance to come out with a 3-0 victory, but two penalty shots by senior forward Mary Waller caught the goalpost.
Waller lifted the first shot off the ground and had Hughes beat, but all that resulted from it was a loud bang.
“The first one I just thinking that I wanted to put less pressure on us by getting a goal,” Waller said. “The second one I was just thinking I really need to make this one after I missed the first one.”
Unfortunately, Waller wasn’t able to cash in on her second shot as it went past a diving Hughes, but ricocheted off the post again.
Waller could have pulled off her best Gordon Bombay impersonation and thought about what would have been had the ball gone half an inch to the left, but the senior’s mind went in a different direction.
“Afterward, I was thinking how could you possibly hit two posts in one game,” Waller said. “But it was just bad luck I guess.”
The Red Dragons best opportunity to score came 13 minutes into the game. The shot would have went into the cage had it not been for a brilliant defensive stop by junior midfielder Alex Okuniewicz.
The Lions win was bitter sweet for the group of seniors including Waller, Jessica Falcone, Leah Geissler, Kristen O’Neill and Kellyn Riley, who were recognized and celebrated before the game — their last game at Lions Stadium.
The Lions will now look toward the playoffs with the regular season coming to an end.
“The goal right now is to make it into the playoffs,” Pfluger said.