60 minutes wasn’t enough for a winner to take the trophy home in the Patriot League Championship matchup between Boston University and Lehigh University.
In the eighth minute of overtime, Lehigh sophomore defender Guusje Hogendoorn deflected a penalty corner shot past Terrier senior goalkeeper Caroline Kelly, and the Mountain Hawks (13-7, 4-2 PL) won the league Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Terriers (10-9, 5-1 PL) brought the offensive pressure at the beginning of the game and earned three penalty corners in the first five minutes of play.
Despite having control of the ball for the majority of the first quarter, BU could not capitalize on their penalty corner opportunities. That was the story of the game as they did not score on any of their 12 corners in the game.
A significant part of defending BU’s corners was Lehigh senior goalkeeper Maddie Kahn, who stood tall in net with five saves in the first quarter. Freshman defender Zoe Day also deserves credit as she made a defensive save in the final minute of the first quarter to keep the score 0-0.
“We had 12 penalty corner opportunities, and you definitely would like to score at least one or two on those, but Maddie Kahn came up big,” head coach Sally Starr said. “We had some near misses. I think what else also happens when you’re playing against a really, really good goalie, it makes the cage smaller for your goal scorers.”
After recording zero shots in the first quarter, Lehigh brought the heat to start the second quarter with three shots in the first five minutes.
The Terriers held off the Lehigh offense but could not find the back of the net themselves, so the teams went scoreless through the half.
BU and Lehigh traded penalty corners to start the third, and Terrier senior forward Ellie McIntyre made a defensive save to maintain the draw.
“That was huge by Ellie. We talked to her about how to position in there a little bit, and she responded really well and came up with a huge save on the post,” Starr said. “Really happy for her.”
The tides turned offensively for the Terriers when freshman forward Martu Coulo weaved through traffic on a free hit outside the circle. Coulo found graduate student midfielder Casey Thompson, who deflected the ball past Kahn in the 42nd minute.
“So happy for Casey,” Starr said. “She came back for a fifth year. She’s a huge cultural architect for us, really turning the tide of a team that wasn’t in the conference tournament last year to a team that got to the championship game this year. So, really pleased with Casey — that was a big goal for us.”
Lehigh responded quickly to tie the game in the 50th minute when senior midfielder Sarah Bonthuis shot the ball from right outside the 25-yard line. Freshman forward Maddie Kandra was waiting inside the circle and tipped the ball past Kelly. However, immediate reactions from spectators indicated that the ball might not have been deflected, deeming the goal illegal because it came from outside the circle. The referees, however, debated and confirmed the call.
“In all our facilities in the Patriot League, we don’t have video review. That’s something you really need to have in a conference championship game,” Starr said. “The ACC has it, Big Ten has it, the America East has it, the Colonial Conference has it, and I really think we need to look at the conference to try to see if we can implement that on all of our home fields.”
In the final second of regulation, a penalty corner was called in favor of Lehigh. The penalty corner was allowed to be played out. The ball bounced off sophomore defender Payton Anderson’s shin inside the circle, but Bonthuis’ shot went just wide of the net, sending the game into 7v7 sudden-death overtime.
The Terriers had four shots in overtime before turning the ball over, allowing Lehigh to draw a penalty corner. Kelly made a save on the first corner, but the deflection by Hogendoorn on Lehigh’s subsequent corner secured Lehigh’s win.
“Our team had an outstanding year this year with the situation that they were dealt with, learning in June that they didn’t have a field,” Starr said. “(Becoming) regular season conference champions and not being able to host in Boston, I just really felt a distinct resiliency and in every measure, this has been an outstanding season.”