By Alexandra Parado
The field hockey team has won its way to the final four of the NCAA Tournament for the 23rd time after two close games this weekend.
The Lions, ranked No. 3 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III poll, hosted SUNY Cortland on Saturday, Nov. 11, and Centre College on Sunday, Nov. 12.
On Saturday, the Lions and SUNY Cortland played a scoreless first half with both teams taking only four shots in a fierce defensive battle. Most of the first half was fought at midfield.
Sophomore Cayla Andrews felt that the great defensive effort put forward by SUNY Cortland pushed the Lions to be better.
“The great defense that we played in the first half, really pushed our offense to be better,” Andrews said.
Determined to get on the board, senior forward Elizabeth Morrison scored six minutes into the second half. In a display of veteran athleticism, she crossed from the left side of the arc to the right, deking defenders to score, putting the Lions forward 1-0.
SUNY Cortland attempted to tie up the game when an opponent made it past senior goalkeeper Christina Fabiano. Sophomore forward/midfielder Kayla Peterson had an outstanding defensive performance. She saved the ball from crossing the line, with only inches to spare.
Just a few minutes later, SUNY Cortland scored their first goal off a corner, which tied the game 1-1.
The game winner came with 45 seconds left, when junior midfielder/defender Sidney Padilla setup Andrews with a right to left cross pass for her victorious goal that concluded the game at 2-1. The Lions outshot SUNY Cortland 17-9 with nine of those being on goal. Fabiano led the defense with four saves in the game.
“I know what it feels like first hand to win a national championship, and I just want everyone on this team to feel the same thing,” Fabiano said.
On Sunday, Nov. 12, the Lions shut out Centre College in the regional final.
The duo that sent the Lions to this game got themselves on the board early. Andrews scored a goal with the help from Padilla, once again. Andrews ripped the shot past the Centre College’s goalkeeper and gave her team a 1-0 lead.
The Lions expanded their lead when freshman forward Tori Tiefenthaler blasted a shot from the top left of the arc.
The 2-0 score at the end of the first half held. The Lions controlled the second half and Fabiano had four saves in the victory. It was also her eighth shutout this season.
The Lions advance to the final four for the 23rd time in program history. The College has won 11 NCAA Division III Championships. The Lions will face Messiah College, ranked No. 1 in the NFHCA ranking, on Friday, Nov. 17, in Louisville, Kentucky.