BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr field hockey team took on the number ten team in the country earlier Saturday afternoon, and they gave them quite a run in what turned into a great contest on Applebee Field. The Owls held #10 Franklin & Marshall scoreless for almost the entire game, threatening to throw the top of the Centennial Conference standings into confusion. Owls goalkeeper Maggie Titus had a tremendous day, making 19 saves and at times singlehandedly shutting down Franklin & Marshall attacks. The Owls defense did a great job as well, limiting many of the Diplomats' chances to harmless shots from distance. However, Franklin & Marshall finally broke through with less than five minutes to play. A goal from Lily Mynott got the Diplomats a late lead, and they were able to make that stand up the rest of the way for a 1-0 win.
Franklin & Marshall certainly showed why they had earned their top-10 ranking to this point in the season, as the visitors got out of the gate quickly. The Diplomats tallied four shots in the opening ten minutes, but, in what would become a theme for the rest of the day, Maggie Titus and the Owls defense shut down those efforts. The Owls forced the first two shots wide, and then Titus made two big saves on the next attempts. Over the next 20 minutes, the Diplomats continued to possess and build chances, but Bryn Mawr constantly flummoxed Franklin & Marshall with strong pressing in the midfield, solid defending, and some great saves by Titus when necessary. After holding Franklin & Marshall scoreless through the first half, Bryn Mawr got their first offensive chance with a couple minutes to go in the frame. The Owls earned a penalty corner in the 34th minute, and that led to a great chance for Sara Rilatt. The sophomore defender ripped a shot from the top of the circle, but Franklin & Marshall's Ilianna Santangelo kicked the pads together and turned the blast away. With that, the teams headed to halftime still deadlocked at 0-0.
The second half was a similar feel to the first, but became even more and more frenzied as Franklin & Marshall scrapped to find a goal while the Owls continued to fiercely defend. The Diplomats earned four penalty corners and took four shots in the first 11 minutes of the half, but Titus saved each and every one of those shots. The biggest moment of the game to that point came in the 55th minute of action. On a penalty corner, the Diplomats sent the ball up top, and then worked it inside the circle for a shot. Erin Coverdale's first attempt was blocked, but she was able to jump on the rebound and fire off another attempt. However, Bryn Mawr's Mary Cugini was right there waiting, perfectly positioned on the endline behind Titus. The junior midfielder was able to get her stick down low and stop the shot, giving Bryn Mawr a chance to recover and ultimately clear away the attempt. Later, Franklin & Marshall seemed to have the go-ahead goal in the back of the cage, but it had gone off of a Diplomat foot, thus erasing the score and keeping the game deadlocked.
With time winding down under 15 minutes to go in the game and much of the momentum still in Franklin & Marshall's favor, the Owls took a quick timeout to settle things down and prep for the final push late in the game. That stoppage helped the Owls' defense catch their breath after the flurry of action in front, and also helped momentarily calm the nerves of being in such a big moment against such a heralded opponent. Out of the timeout, Bryn Mawr once again locked things down defensively, limiting the Diplomats to low-quality chances and giving Maggie Titus the chance to continue to make saves, and the game remained that way into the final five minutes of play.
Unfortunately, the Owls could only weather the Franklin & Marshall attack for so long. The Diplomats finally found a crack in the armor with less than five minutes to play. The visitors were able to recover a loose ball after a save by Titus, helping them retain possession deep in the offensive zone. Half-a-minute later, they got the ball inside the circle on the right side, and a Franklin & Marshall attacker fired a pass across to the center of the circle. There, Melissa Gula was waiting, and she stopped the ball and then fired a low, hard pass towards the left side of the cage. Lily Mynott was waiting at the perfect spot on the left post, getting great positioning on her defender and deflecting the pass behind Titus and into the center of the cage.
That momentous goal certainly allowed the Diplomats to breathe somewhat easier, but there were still over four minutes to play in the contest. However, despite inserting a kicking back into the game in place of Titus, the Owls couldn't get that one last offensive chance they were looking for, and the Diplomats were somehow able to hold on and squeak by with the 1-0 win on the day.
Titus' 19 saves were a career-high for the first-year goaltender. The one-goal margin in today's game is the closest Bryn Mawr has played Franklin & Marshall since the 1998 season, and the lone goal is also the fewest goals Bryn Mawr has allowed to the Diplomats since a 0-0 draw in 1994.
The Owls will look to keep the positive momentum going when they get back in action next week. The team will travel over to Haverford for a game against their Bi-Co rivals on Wednesday afternoon. Game time against the Fords is set for 4:30 PM.