Despite playing 90 minutes of exhausting hockey, the Royals made clutch play after clutch play in the shootout to earn a 2-1 win at Goucher Tuesday evening.
When junior Madeline Mast (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) cut back to her left and backhanded a shot to the back of the cage, she capped a perfect 3-0 run to clinch the shootout.
With Goucher shooting first, goalie Kelsey Troyer (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) made three straight stops to set up her offense. GC's first attacker dribbled the ball on her stick, but Troyer made a lunge that caused the shot to fall harmlessly wide right. She had to make two saves on the next attempt before kicking the ball away. Then Troyer came out and pushed the third Gopher player further to her right, leaving another shot wide.
Kayla Maret Chesapeake, Va./Indian River) took the basic approach, driving in and making a single cut to her left to put GC's goalie on the ground, leaving a wide open cage. Lauren Hartzler (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) made a small move to her right and simply smashed the ball in for a 2-0 edge.
After Troyer's third and final stop, Mast made a little move to her right before a quick cutback set up her clinching strike.
The Eastern Mennonite women provided a thrilling ending to an otherwise draining night, which went well past the regulation 70 minutes of a field hockey game.
Goucher controlled the opening half, attempting the first six shots of the game. The Royals scored on their only shot of the period, coming just 1:13 before intermission. Rachel Breslin (Lititz, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) got loose on a breakaway and put the ball in front of the cage where Hartzler pounded it home.
EMU nearly scored again just six minutes into the second, but back-to-back defensive saves stopped shots from Skylar Hedgepeth (Smithfield, Va./Smithfield) and Bri Miller (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester).
The Gophers equalized in the 59th minute, when inserter Ariana Hooper got a pass back off a corner and made it 1-1.
The Royals had a few chances in the closing minutes of regulation, but couldn't end it. The pattern continued in overtime, which each team getting good looks but coming up short. Troyer made two more saves in the extra time and another time smothered the pass on a 2-on-0 breakaway.
Eastern Mennonite earned a corner in the final seconds of the second OT, and wisely let time expire before inserting to assure they got the only chance.
EMU has now won their last four overtime games, going back to a loss to Bridgewater in the 2013 ODAC Tournament. It was their first shootout this decade.
The teams finished even in shots, 13-13, although the Royals had a 10-6 advantage in corners. Troyer picked up six saves before the shootout.
Eastern Mennonite will take a 2-1 record into their home opener on Saturday when they host Notre Dame of Maryland. Game time in Harrisonburg is 3:00pm.