BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Owls field hockey team returned to Applebee Field once again earlier Wednesday afternoon to renew their rivalry with Haverford. In what turned into one of the most exciting contests of the season, the two teams traded goals in a contest that grew more and more frenetic as time wound down. Finally, the Owls used a late goal from Sara Rilatt to put a dagger in the vistors and claim a 3-2 win for the ages. Maggie Titus made two key saves late in the contest to help close out the win for Bryn Mawr, while Rilatt led the offensive attack with two goals on the day.
The Fords had the better of the play early on in the game, earning two penalty corners inside the first five minutes. However, they did not register a shot on either of the opportunities, and Bryn Mawr slowly began to exert more control in the contest over the rest of the quarter. In the last five minutes of the frame, the Owls earned four penalty corners and got several shots on goal that were either blocked or saved by goaltender Sunny Truslow. The Fords did well to survive those first three corners, but it was on the final one that Bryn Mawr finally broke through. After several more intricate corner plays did not result in goals, the Owls kept things simple and inserted a ball up top to Rilatt and let her take care of the rest. The junior defender let loose with a hard, low shot that went to the left of Truslow's outstretched pad and snuck inside the left post. That goal came with just five seconds left on the clock in the quarter and it sent the Owls into the break between quarters with a 1-0 lead.
However, that lead was short-lived, as Haverford once again controlled play early in the second quarter. This time, the Fords did capitalize on their early penalty corners, as Kelsey Chai took a shot from the left wing that snaked through a bunch of players in front of the cage and found the back of the net to make it a 1-1 game. From there, Bryn Mawr did well to retake control of the contest, holding Haverford without a shot the rest of the half. The game grew more chippy as well, as the Fords drew three green cards over the remainder of the quarter. One of those went to Truslow, the Fords goalkeeper, who brought down Kelly Bergman on what was Bryn Mawr's best chance of the quarter. Bergman got behind the Haverford defense and had a one-on-one with Truslow inside the circle. Bergman was able to get a shot off before the onrushing Truslow arrived. However, the two collided and Bergman went down to the turf. Initially, the umpire called for a penalty stroke and gave Truslow a yellow card, but after discussion with her fellow umpire, the card was changed to green and the penalty stroke wiped off the board. Neither side would create much from there, and the teams went to halftime still tied at 1-1.
In the third quarter, it was Bryn Mawr who was on the front foot virtually from the beginning. The Owls got shots from Mary Cugini, Courtney Cutone, and Kelly Bergman less than two minutes into the frame, both of which were saved by relief goalkeeper Hannah Roth. Later, a penalty corner led to two more shots for the Owls, but still Haverford managed to survive. All of the pressure finally paid off nine minutes into the quarter when Grace Morris found a go-ahead goal for the Owls. Bryn Mawr broke out of the midfield and managed to work a pass through several defenders to Kelly Bergman right in the middle of the circle. Bergman collected and fired a quick shot, but it was blocked by a defender. However, the carom was kicked around and ultimately fell to Grace Morris at the top left of the circle. The senior defender cut to her right and then hit a hard chipped shot that arced high over Roth and then fell perfectly into the center of the netting, giving Bryn Mawr a 2-1 lead.
Once again, though, the Fords would not allow Bryn Mawr to get comfortable with the lead, and once again the visitors found a quick goal to tie things back up. Just three minutes after the Owls goal, Haverford came back down to the other end and scored on the counterattack. A turnover from the Owls deep in their own end gave Haverford the ball on the right wing. A Haverford attacker sent a low, hard pass into the circle that a Bryn Mawr defender stopped just a few yards in front of the cage. However, the ball bounced hard off of her stick and fell straight to Ariana Sulpizio just a few feet away. Sulpizio whirled and fired all in one motion to put the ball in the back of the cage and make it a 2-2 game.
The deadlock continued into the fourth quarter, where Haverford began to put a stranglehold on the game. The Fords' pressure began to wear down Bryn Mawr's defense, as the Owls found passing lanes clogged and simply could not break out of their own end. Haverford earned two penalty corners in the first ten minutes of the quarter, getting a shot off on each attempt. However, the first was blocked, and Titus made a thunderous stop on the second to momentarily keep the Fords off the board. Haverford continued to keep the ball locked in the offensive end much of the quarter, but they just could not find the back of the cage.
That failure to capitalize on their chances proved costly for the visitors, as Bryn Mawr finally broke out and scored on their lone offensive possession of the quarter. A penalty corner with just under three minutes to play gave the Owls a chance to set up a play, and once again they kept it simple. Rilatt accepted the insertion up top and once more fired a low, hard shot on goal. This time, Zaynah Moen had parked right in front of the goaltender Roth, and Moen was able to get her stick on the ball and slightly deflect it past the keeper and into the back of the cage to give Bryn Mawr a 3-2 lead. From there, the Owls had to survive one final rally from the Fords, who earned two more penalty corners and two more shots in the final moments. However, Titus came up with one last massive save on a hard shot from her right, and that was the final nail in the coffin as Bryn Mawr held on for the 3-2 win.
With the win, Bryn Mawr moves to 14-2 on the year and 7-2 in conference play. The Owls will close out the regular season with one more important Centennial Conference game on Saturday. Bryn Mawr will welcome Ursinus to campus on Saturday in a game that will have big seeding implications for both teams, as the winner will become the third seed in next week's Centennial Conference championship tournament. Gametime this Saturday against the Bears is slated for 11 AM on Applebee Field.