SALISBURY, Md. – The dream lives on for the Ursinus College field hockey team.
Freshman Erin Saybolt scored one goal and assisted on senior Colleen Leahy's game-winner with 21:56 remaining in the second half to spark the 6th-ranked Bears to a 2-1 victory over 9th-ranked Trinity (Conn.) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Salisbury. Ursinus advances to the regional final for the third straight season and will challenge the host Sea Gulls, a 3-0 winner over Kenyon, at 1 p.m. Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
Ursinus (17-4) extended its winning streak to seven games and improved to 21-10 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.
Saybolt, the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year, staked the Bears to a 1-0 lead at the 19:41 mark of the first half. Off a penalty corner, senior Rachel Zane sent a pass from the top to the left side of the cage, where Saybolt was ready to hammer home her third goal of the season.
The Bantams (13-5), fresh off a 7-5 thriller against Cabrini in the opening round, allowed Ursinus only 23 seconds to savor the upper hand before Allison Slow tipped in a shot by Kelcie Finn to pull even.
Saybolt and Leahy combined for the all-important marker at 48:04, when the rookie guided a long crossing pass across the goalmouth and Leahy finished off her 13th of the year. The Ursinus defense allowed only two shots the rest of the way, blocking one and watching another go wide before holding on for another NCAA Tournament victory.
Despite the Bantams' offensive fireworks in the opener, Saturday's contest was a defensive battle. Ursinus held a 9-7 edge in shots and attempted 10 penalty corners to Trinity's six. The Bears limited Finn, the nation's leader in points per game and the NESCAC Player of the Year, to three shots on the afternoon, an impressive effort headlined by seniors Aliki Torrence, Ann Kopera and Zane; junior Emma Frees; and sophomores Bridget Sherry and Mikayla Jordan.
Sophomore Jules Singer made two saves between the pipes for Ursinus, while Lori Berger finished with five stops for the Bantams. Olivia Hoyda made a defensive save on a shot by Kopera early in the contest.
Ursinus improved to 3-3 against top-10 squads this season, and now must prepare for its most difficult test. Salisbury (17-1), ranked No. 2 in the NFHCA poll, came into Saturday's play second in Division III in goals-against average and scoring margin, third in scoring average, and sixth in corners per game. The Sea Gulls have won 13 games in a row and are 9-0 at home this season.
The Bears, battle tested and ready for the challenge, have their sights set on a return trip to the NCAA semifinals. One more victory sends Ursinus to William Smith College as one of the last four teams standing.
Head coach Janelle Benner joins senior Colleen Leahy and freshman Erin Saybolt after the Bears' 2-1 victory over Trinity in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday