Hartford, Conn. – Senior co-captain forward Kelcie Finn (Weymouth, Mass.) had a hand in all five goals, as the Trinity College Bantams rallied back from a 2-1 deficit at halftime to down the visiting Gwynedd Mercy University Griffins, 5-2, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Championship Tournament this evening on Sheppard Field. Trinity, ranked No. 11 in the nation, improves to 13-6 and advances to a second round game against Salisbury on Saturday, November 11 at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. The Griffins close the year at 17-4 with their first loss in seven games.
The Bantams found themselves down a goal heading into the second half, as Gwynedd Mercy outshot Trinity, 10-4, and junior midfielder Kaitlyn Lutz (Bridgeport, Pa.) assisted on two Griffin goals in the first 35 minutes. The tables turned quickly early in the second frame when Finn fed first-year forward Kendall Brown (Greenwich, Conn.) on the game-tying tally 7:08 after the break with a quick pass from left to right in front of the cage. Finn converted the go-ahead goal off a feed from the left sideline by junior forward Chandler Solimine (Pelham, N.Y.) just 46 seconds later for a 3-2 Bantam lead at the 27:06 mark.
The Bantams kept the pressure on throughout the second half, scoring on a Finn penalty stroke that rolled by Griffin junior goalie Sarah Crane (Cumberland, Md.) with just under 20 minutes remaining and again on a pass from junior defender Alison Slowe (Medfield, Mass.) to Finn at the 11:33 mark for a 5-2 lead. Gwynedd Mercy got one back on a rebound by senior forward Brianna O’Connell (Berlin, N.J.) after a long shot by senior forward Melissa Russo (Saylorsburg, Pa.) was saved by Bantam junior goalie Lori Berger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) with 4:10 on the clock, but did not get off another shot the rest of the way.
“We told our defenders at halftime that they needed to step up to the ball and get in front of their player,” said Trinity Head Coach Anne Parmenter. “They did a nice job passing the ball in the first half, and we were not getting in front of those passes. We did a much better job in the second half after we woke up a bit.”
Trinity had gotten on the board first on a tip-in by Solimine off Finn’s pass from the right wing just under five minutes into the contest. The Griffins responded quickly on O’Connell’s first goal of the game 9:50 less than five minutes later, and nearly took the lead midway through the opening frame, but Berger made a diving save on a blistering shot by O’Connell from the circle. Berger needed to make five more stops in a 91-second span to keep the game tied, but Russo gave the visitors the lead with 5:22 left before the break seconds after a green card forced the Bantams to play short-handed. Finn almost tied it at 2-2 in the final minute of the first half, but Crane turned away her rocket from the top of the circle off a penalty corner.
Trinity outshot Gwynedd Mercy, 10-5, in the second half but still finished with one less shot for the game (15-14), and each team was awarded four penalty corners. Berger made six of her seven saves before intermission, and Crane made four of her five stops in the second stanza. Trinity advances to the NCAA Second Round for the seventh time and the second season in a row, and heads to Messiah College for the third time in the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the Trinity/Salisbury game on Saturday will face either the host Messiah Falcons or Washington and Lee on Sunday, November 12.