In their first game of the NCAA Division III Tournament, the Lions faced off against SUNY New Paltz at Lions Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16. This was another game in which they were not able to get off to a fast start, missing opportunities on the offensive side of the ball that could have produced a couple of goals.
It was not until there were about 10 minutes left in the first half and the Lions got a good look at the net when senior and leading goal scorer Lindsey Hatch was able to bypass the keeper and put up a shot, only for it to be deflected by Hawks defender Colleen Roemer.
But the game was blown wide open in the second half, when Hatch was finally able to get on the board with 20 minutes left in the game. She intercepted a pass, allowing her to knock in her 30th goal of the season.
“I think we just started playing our game and communicating more,” Lions coach Sharon Pfluger said. “Once we started doing that, we started to have more opportunities to have an attack.”
In the next 10 minutes, the Lions found a way to score three more times — once more by Hatch, one by sophomore Danielle Andreula and the third by senior Erin Healy, off a feed from sophomore Lexi Smith.
With the final score at 4-0, the Lions began to prepare for their next game versus Catholic University.
The following day, the Lions scored with 11 minutes left in the first half to advance in the tournament, beating Catholic 1-0.
The goal came off a beautiful pass from Smith, finished with a laser shot from none other than Hatch. This was the second of two very good opportunities the Lions had to score, the former coming from a shot by sophomore Jaclyn Douglas that hit the cross bar.
Often overlooked because of the Lions’ high-powered offense, Schlupp has been fantastic protecting the net this season and showed it particularly in the closing minutes of the quarterfinals game.
With Catholic having been awarded five corners in as many minutes, the Cardinals were bound to get a shot on goal. While missing with the first two, the next three were on target, but all saved by Schlupp, including the last one, a spectacular diving save to keep the game at 1-0 and give Schlupp her fourth shutout of the season.
The Lions will now travel to Lexington, V.A., to face Middlebury College in the semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 22. With a win there, they could possibly face Salisbury University in the final – the only team that bested the Lions – for possible revenge. With a win against Salisbury, the Lions would win their first NCAA Championship since 2011.
“Being with this group of girls is incredible,” Hatch said. “We want to win it again for those girls that are seniors, who won it all as freshman. I think we have a good chance of bringing it back home.”