Members of the Lehigh women’s lacrosse team looked up at the scoreboard as the overtime period of the Patriot League quarterfinal game began on a field lit by the setting sun.
There was no room for mistakes as Holy Cross and Lehigh battled it out to see which team would crack first.
In the closing seconds of overtime, junior attacker Kellie Gough made the game-winning shot, sending the Mountain Hawks to the semifinals.
“At the end — in the huddle — it was just us trying to play for our seniors, who we’re really close to,” Gough said. “We didn’t want to end the wrong way.”
Despite a strong showing by the Crusaders (6-12, 4-5 PL), the Mountain Hawks (13-5, 8-2 PL) managed a 16-15 double overtime quarterfinal victory at Ulrich Sports Complex on Tuesday night to advance to the Patriot League semifinals.
Gough and sophomore midfielder Sondra Dickey led Lehigh in scoring with four goals each. Attackers senior Haley Wentzel and junior Mary Ellen Carron followed with three goals apiece. Attackers sophomore Autumn Ryan and freshman Julianne Puckette each contributed a goal of their own.
Freshman goalkeeper Samantha Sagi had a mere nine saves on the night. The team took 35 shots — 29 of which were on goal — and turned over the ball 16 times, just two shy of Holy Cross’ 18 turnovers.
While Lehigh eventually pulled off the win, Holy Cross was able to contain the Mountain Hawks’ attacks and pierce through their defense.
The Crusaders opened the game with a three-goal run to take the first lead. Despite a slow start, Lehigh answered with five goals of its own. Holy Cross tacked up one more goal before the Mountain Hawks added two to the scoreboard to conclude the first half in a 7-4 Lehigh advantage.
“We started off a little slow,” Gough said. “Our defense and our offense don’t do that great of a job when the other team goes on a run, but we’re doing a lot better at stopping the other team when they do go on a run and then building our own momentum.”
After each team scored a goal to start off the second half, Holy Cross went on a three-goal run to tie up the contest. Almost as quickly as Lehigh responded with a five-goal run to pull ahead, the Crusaders answered with four goals to bring the score within one.
Both league foes went back and forth, until Lehigh found itself up by one once again. A last-minute shot by Holy Cross, however, tied the game and sent it into overtime.
After almost two scoreless overtime periods, Gough sent the ball soaring into the Crusaders’ net with 13 seconds remaining on the clock.
“I feel relieved to have won,” coach Jill Redfern said. “It certainly could have gone the other way. I don’t think we played our best lacrosse, but I also give a lot of credit to the Holy Cross team.”
With this victory, Lehigh will advance to the Patriot League semifinals. The Mountain Hawks are set to play Navy in a rematch of last year’s semifinal game at Loyola Friday night.
In the regular season, Navy defeated Lehigh in a game in which senior midfielder Kierstyn Voiro said the Mountain Hawks didn’t play their best lacrosse.
“I’m excited this time around to switch up the game plan and see how we can best attack them,” Voiro said.