BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr field hockey team put on yet another historic performance earlier Wednesday afternoon on Applebee Field. In a highly entertaining matchup, Bryn Mawr knocked off Tri-Co rival Swarthmore thanks in part to a double-overtime, game-winning goal from senior Emma Hicks. After suffering through three consecutive last-minute losses in their last three Centennial Conference games, the Owls were finally rewarded today for all of their hard work with their first league win since 2013.
The game certainly did not have the start of a 2-1 double-overtime thriller, as both sides scored a goal less than five minutes into the game. Bryn Mawr jumped out to an early lead with a goal less than 90 seconds into the contest. The Owls worked the ball down the field immediately off the opening whistle and were able to earn a penalty corner. Lydia Fisher inserted the ball up to the top of the arc, where Sara Rilatt awaited on the other end. The sophomore took a few dribbles inside the circle to her right and then fired a shot back across the flow of the play. Her effort was hard-hit and well-placed, sailing past Swarthmore goalkeeper Zelda Bank and inside the left post. The goal sparked a loud cheer from the bench and sidelines and put Bryn Mawr ahead 1-0 just 95 seconds into the game.
Remarkably, Swarthmore would tie the game right back up less than two minutes later. After the restart, the two teams traded possession in the midfield, and Swarthmore slowly managed to work play deeper into the offensive third. Bryn Mawr momentarily gained possession and tried to break back out into the midfield, but Swarthmore's Marion Carr managed to pounce on a loose touch. The Garnet's leading scorer knew exactly what to do with her chance, dribbling through and around several Owls defenders and into the top right side of the circle. Carr then let rip a hard shot of her own, also against the grain. It sailed past the outstretched arm of Owls goalkeeper Maggie Titus and just inside the upper left corner, tying the game up at 1-1 less than five minutes in.
With that opening flurry of activity out of the way, things somehow settled down from there. Swarthmore had the next good chances a few minutes later, as the Garnet racked up four penalty corners and four shots over the next ten minutes. However, Maggie Titus rebounded from the tough early goal and turned into a brick wall in front of the cage, saving all four of those shots. Then it was Bryn Mawr's turn to get back on the attack. In the 17th minute, the Owls earned another penalty corner, leading to a shot from Lydia Fisher. That attempt went just wide, but the Owls earned two more penalty corners just a few minutes later. Each of those resulted in a shot, one for Mary Cugini and one for Rilatt, but both of those were blocked. Bryn Mawr had one more great look at the cage with less than two minutes to go in the half, but Cugini's shot was saved by Bank, and that sent the teams to halftime tied at 1-1.
Swarthmore came out of the break and looked the more likely team to score the all-important next goal, as they had all the chances early on. The two sides spent the first ten minutes of the half probing and looking for a breakout, but then in the 45th minute, the Garnet began to attack. The visitors earned a penalty corner, and a resulting shot that was blocked, but that led to another corner and three more shots for the Garnet. The Owls defense did a tremendous job shutting down those chances, though, blocking the first two shots and forcing a third to go wide. The teams went without a chance for another 17 minutes, getting deep into the final ten minutes of the second half before either side had another attacking opportunity. Swarthmore had the first of those two chances, with two shots several minutes apart, but Titus once again closed the pads and kept the ball out of the cage. Then, Bryn Mawr earned their first and only chance of the second half. It was Alina Peon who took a shot for the Owls, but Bank too was up to the task, turning the shot away and closing the book on regular time.
The first overtime frame was a similar story to the second half, as Swarthmore had the better of the chances early. Carr and Ellen Adams each had shots for the Garnet, but Titus continued to come up big for Bryn Mawr, saving each of those efforts and keeping the Owls alive. That opened the door for Bryn Mawr to try and win the game late in the overtime period. The hosts did a great job of maintaining possession and working the ball down the field, putting constant pressure on the Swarthmore defense until they yielded a penalty corner with less than a minute to go in the first OT. The Owls earned three penalty corners in that final stretch of play, and it momentarily looked as if Bryn Mawr had won the game on the second when the ball ended up in the back of the cage. However, it was deemed that the ball had come off the body of a Bryn Mawr player, nullifying the goal and ultimately sending the team into a second overtime period.
In that second overtime, Bryn Mawr was completely dominant. The Owls kept the ball deep in the Swarthmore end virtually the entire time, never giving the visitors a chance to catch their breath. Bryn Mawr earned a corner just over a minute in, and Mary Cugini earned two shots on that play. However, Bank made a big save on the first, and then Riya Garg made a critical defensive save right on the goalline on the second to give the Garnet a momentary reprieve. That still sparked two more penalty corners and four more shots for the Owls over the next three minutes, but each of those chances was blocked or saved by Bank. It seemed as if the game may be headed for a shootout, but the Owls found one final chance, and that proved to be the difference.
After Swarthmore had a momentary breakout of their own end, the Garnet turned the ball over in the midfield. Mary Cugini pounced on the loose ball, and with the 7-on-7 nature of overtime, there was plenty of space in front of her. The junior midfielder raced ahead into the attacking third, flying down the right wing and into the circle with a 3-on-2 opportunity. She did a great job waiting and drawing the Swarthmore defenders her way before firing a perfect pass across to the center of the arc. There, Emma Hicks was waiting after making a great run down the left side. Hicks received the pass and then cut back and to her right momentarily, letting a Swarthmore defender fly past her and out of the play. That gave Hicks all the time and space she needed, as she fired a hard shot that Banks had no chance at. The ball sailed past the Garnet goaltender and into the left side of the cage, setting off a wild celebration as the Owls bench emptied onto the field.
The goal was just the second of Hicks' Bryn Mawr career, and arguably the biggest she has ever scored. With that golden goal, Bryn Mawr earned their first Centennial Conference win since 2013 (a 4-1 victory over Swarthmore). In fact, the win is just the second Centennial Conference victory for Bryn Mawr since 1999. It is also the first for the Owls under head coach Victor Brady. The team will look to continue their winning ways when they get back in action on Saturday, when Bryn Mawr will travel to Carlisle to take on Dickinson. Game time in central PA is set for 6:00 PM on the Red Devils' campus.