SWARTHMORE, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr field hockey team dug themselves a bit of a hole midway through the third quarter of today's contest at Swarthmore. The Owls had outshot the Garnet 4-1 in the first half and were controlling a good portion of possession in the contest, but two quick goals from the hosts early in the second half gave Swarthmore a 2-0 lead. However, at times this season it has appeared that this group of Owls plays better from behind in big Centennial Conference games, and today proved to be no different. Bryn Mawr scored the final three goals of the contest and held off a late flurry from the Garnet to claim a critical 3-2 come-from-behind win. Samantha Shaw, Sara Rilatt, and Kelly Bergman were the goalscorers on the day for the Owls.
After a scoreless opening half, Swarthmore shocked the Owls with two goals off of penalty corners in the first five minutes of the third quarter. The second in particular came on a nicely executed corner play that saw Chelsea Semper insert the ball up top and then scramble to the near post for a redirect off of a laser of a shot/pass from Marion Carr.
Now trailing by two in a game that was pretty important from a postseason perspective, the Owls needed to buckle down and find a way to chip away at the deficit. After fighting off a couple of more Swarthmore penalty corners, Bryn Mawr went to work on the offensive end, earning a pair of penalty corners for themselves. The first saw Mary Cugini get a shot that was blocked by the Swarthmore defenders. On the second, the same sequence repeated itself, but this time the Owls came up with the loose ball. A second shot from Cugini was saved by Swarthmore's Aron Lankford, but the Owls collected the rebound once again and ultimately Sara Rilatt got a clean look on goal from the top of the circle. Her hard shot was stopped by a defender's stick, but Samantha Shaw was right there to pounce on the loose ball and fire it into the back of the cage, drawing Bryn Mawr back within one. Bryn Mawr got one more great offensive look in the quarter, but Lankford once again made a stop on a shot from Cugini, momentarily preserving the Garnet's lead.
Bryn Mawr continued to battle right from the start of the final quarter, and that pressure paid off almost immediately. One penalty corner led to a shot from Grace Morris that was saved, but the pressure resulted in another penalty corner. This time, the Owls inserted up top to Rilatt, who squared herself and let another rocket of a shot go towards the right side of the cage. A Swarthmore defender was there and did a great job to get a stick on the ball, sending up a groan from the pro-Owls crowd. However, the deflection sent the ball high in the air in front of the cage, and momentarily the Swarthmore defense lost sight of it. Despite the great effort from the Swarthmore defender, the ball had such an incredible amount of backspin on it from the deflection that it hit the ground and bounded backwards and straight into the wide open cage. That turned the groans into cheers as Bryn Mawr had tied the game at 2-2.
From there, the game became a mad scramble to see who could tally the next goal. Swarthmore had the first good chance, but a shot from them went wide. The Owls had two penalty corners and two shots in the next few minutes, but Lankford made a great save to keep the game tied headed into the final minutes of the quarter.
Then, Bryn Mawr got the go-ahead goal they were looking for. It came with under two minutes to go on the clock, and it started with a great run from Mary Cugini. The senior co-captain sliced right down the middle of the Swarthmore defense, earning a foul about five yards above the top of the circle. Most of the players on the field momentarily froze and looked up, but Cugini did a perfect "self-start" to get play going again, and that allowed her to beat several defenders to the top of the circle with the ball. With a defender closing in on her from the right, Cugini ripped a shot, but the defender's outstretched stick got just enough of the ball to deflect it. However, once again a deflection went to the perfect spot for Bryn Mawr. The ball caromed high in the air towards the left front of the cage, where Kelly Bergman happened to be perfectly positioned. The junior forward stuck her stick up above her head and was able to get her stick on the ball before Lankford, who was rushing out of the cage, got to it. The ball carried over Lankford's shoulder and into the back of the net, and the comeback was complete.
From there, the Owls had to weather one final charge from the Garnet. Maggie Titus came up with a massive save on a Swarthmore shot in the final moments, and that proved to be the final play of the game as the Owls took a hard-fought 3-2 win on the day.
With the win, Bryn Mawr moves to 11-1 on the season and 5-1 in Centennial Conference play. That marks the most conference wins in a season in program history, and it also ties the school record for most wins in a single season (this is the fourth time Bryn Mawr has earned 11 wins in a season, the last coming in 1996).
Bryn Mawr will look to keep the momentum rolling this weekend when they return to Applebee Field for a matchup with Dickinson. Gametime on Saturday afternoon is slated for 12:30 PM.