|The Huskies Celebrate an NCAA Title!|
The Huskies (22-1) were able to get on the board first at the 4:38 mark of the first half when Riley, the nation's leading scorer, knocked in a shot from five yards out. The shot came off of a deflected pass right in front of the net and was her 26th goal of the season.
"Coming out, the players seemed really loose but intense," head coach Jan Hutchinson said of her team. "After that quick opening goal, we kind of breathed a sigh of relief but knew we had to stay focused and keep up the intensity."
UML would get a chance to tie the score at one less than two minutes later. Off of a penalty corner, a shot by the River Hawks Liz Day was deflected by senior Aubrey Carman (Dallastown/Dallastown) but Jaci Moulton was able to get the rebound and tip in a goal to knot the score at 1-1 6:01 into the first half.
Shots were difficult to come by, as both teams turned up the heat on defense and didn't allow any good looks at the net throughout most of the contest.
UML would get a chance to go up by a score when Sammy Macy would try a shot at the 13:12 mark but was turned away with a nice save by senior Caitlin Koczynski (Yardley/Neshaminy). The Huskies would work their way down the field and take a one-goal lead when junior Ashley Miller (Shermans Dale/West Perry) dumped a pass down to freshman Alexis Weber (Bear, DE/William Penn) from the top of the arc where she would tip it in past the River Hawks goalkeeper Amy Carbon at the 17:16 mark in the first half. It was Weber's seventh goal of the season and Miller's fourth assist.
Bloomsburg would try to add to their lead 10 minutes later, but a shot by senior Breanne Tobin (Perkasie/Pennridge) would sail wide left of the net. UML would get their last good look at the net in the first half when a shot by Moulton off of a penalty corner was saved again by Koczynski.
Defense would continue to dominate the game in the second half, as neither team was able to get a good look at the net until over 15 minutes in. The Huskies would look to extend their lead when junior Amanda Deloy (Milton, DE/Cape Henlopen) took a shot off of a penalty corner but was turned away when the ball was blocked by the tight River Hawks defense. UML would get its own good look at the cage less than two minutes later with a penalty corner. This time it was the Bloomsburg defense that would step up as Day's shot was deflected away from the net, preserving the 2-1 lead.
The Huskies would work the ball down inside the arc seven minutes later but saw good shot by Miller saved by Carbon. Continuing their strong work on defense, the Huskies would regain control of the ball with junior Julia Rush (Quakertown/Quakertown) breaking away from the pack from the top of the arc. She would drop it off to Riley, who found the back of the net for the second time in the game, putting the Huskies up 3-1 with just over five minutes to play in the game. It was Riley's 27th goal and Rush's third assist of the season.
The River Hawks would fight back, however, scoring off of a penalty corner from Moulton to Macy to bring UML back within one goal with 4:36 left to play. They continued to turn on the heat, attempting to even the score by pulling their goalie with two minutes remaining. The extra attacker would prove to be futile as the Huskies defense would turn away all attempts at a good look at the net.
"We took a timeout right after they scored and the players were really fired up and determined not to let this slip away," said Hutchinson. "They pulled their goalie and added an extra attacker and that's when we really turned it up a notch. These players were not going to lose this game."
The championship also brings a successful era to an end as this was Hutchinson's last game on the Bloomsburg sideline, announcing her retirement a few weeks ago. She goes out on top, however, with 16 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) titles and 16 national championships.
"I'm excited and very happy that it ended this way," said Hutchinson. "But I'm mostly happy for the seniors, because they'll leave here with four championships. This season was a story book ending, and for these kids to come back and win it all...it's incredible."