COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College field hockey team came up one play short in a thrilling 3-2 overtime setback to No. 14 Franklin & Marshall on Saturday.
In a rematch of the last four Centennial Conference championships, the Diplomats (9-2, 6-0) shook off a sensational game-saving defensive play by Bridget Sherry and walked off on a goal by Sydney Cole with 8:53 remaining in the extra session. The victory was the third straight in the regular-season series for the Franklin & Marshall, which exacted a measure of revenge for the Bears' double-overtime triumph in last year's CC final.
Senior Brooke Overly scored a goal for the fourth straight game and set up another by freshman Gabriela Howell just a few minutes later in the first half, but Ursinus (6-5, 4-2) was unable to find the back of the cage again in another entertaining clash between the CC's perennial powers.
The Diplomats drew first blood when Sydney Cole slid a through pass from the right side of the circle to Erin Coverdale, and the CC's leading scorer slipped her shot into the right corner of the cage for a 1-0 lead just 4:52 into the affair.
The Bears had little going for them until Overly put her stamp on the game. The veteran took a loose ball at the top of the circle and hammered a shot to the bottom right corner of the netting to even the score with 12:01 remaining in the half.
Overly was at the center of the action once more as Ursinus seized the upper hand less than three minutes later. Her hard shot drew a save from Diplomats goalkeeper Iliana Santangelo but produced a juicy rebound that Howell easily punched into the back of the cage to make it 2-1 with 9:23 to play in the period.
Pushing hard for an equalizer, Franklin & Marshall got it when Katie O'Loughlin's cross-crease pass found the stick of Sydney Cole, who maneuvered for a shot at the right post and sent it past Bears keeper Jules Singer to pull level at 2-apiece with 2:16 left in the frame.
As their meetings so often do, the latest edition of the conference's most tightly contested rivalry morphed into a defensive struggle after intermission. Though the second-half shot totals were even at six each, Ursinus needed a couple remarkable defensive plays to keep the Diplomats from forging ahead.
Junior Mikayla Jordan broke up a potential scoring opportunity with 26:40 to go in the stanza, knocking the ball free after a cross to the left post found an open F&M player. With 12:40 left, Coverdale's hard shot from a tough angle on the right side of the circle pin-balled around the cage after Singer made the initial save.
Deadlocked after 70 minutes, the powers went to a 7-on-7 extra period, and the action ratcheted up considerably alongside the tension. Howell and Overly forced back-to-back saves before the Bears earned a penalty corner, but F&M took gained possession and took it the other way on a counter attack. Cole carried up the right side before slipping a pass to Annie Horsley, who had a wide-open net with Singer out of the cage. Horsley gathered the pass and dribbled before unloading a shot, but Sherry came out of nowhere to slap it away with a sensational diving effort.
Three minutes later, the Diplomats earned consecutive penalty corners and had a huge advantage when an Ursinus player was sent out of the circle for leaving early. With only two Bear defenders, F&M passed it around the circle before Cole's shot deflected off Singer and across the line.
Franklin & Marshall gained slight edges in shots (19-16) and corners (10-8). Coverdale led the way with six shots, while Overly topped all players with seven. Howell added four shots in scoring for the second time in as many outings.
Santangelo made eight saves for the Diplomats, and Singer had seven for Ursinus. Sherry's defensive save was her second of the year and the third of her career.
The Bears, who fell to fifth place in the CC, will look to make up ground at Muhlenberg on Wednesday.