Women's Lacrosse Keeps Hopes Alive With Wild OT Win

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
 

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Needing to win twice in the final week of the regular season to have a chance at the Centennial Conference playoffs, the Muhlenberg women’s lacrosse team won twice – in one game.

Kiersten Mulvey The Mules overcame a bizarre ending to win at Dickinson, 13-11 in overtime, to keep their playoff hopes alive.

With one game left in the regular season, Muhlenberg (9-6, 3-5) is one game behind Dickinson for the fifth and final playoff spot. But the Red Devils (9-7, 4-4) close out their season at sixth-ranked Franklin & Marshall, which has not lost to anyone in the CC other than Gettysburg since 2004. If F&M beats Dickinson, the Mules can clinch a playoff berth by winning at Ursinus on Saturday due to their head-to-head wins against Dickinson and Haverford, the other teams that could finish at 4-5.

Ahead 11-10 in the waning seconds of regulation, the Mules needed a stop to secure the win. And they appeared to get it when sophomore Kiersten Mulvey saved back-to-back shots with fewer than 10 seconds left. After the second one, the clock ran out and the horn sounded in the scramble for the loose ball. Muhlenberg players ran onto the field to celebrate.

But not so fast. The referees ruled that the Mules had committed a foul, put one second back on the clock and awarded Dickinson a free-position shot. And when it went in, the Mules were headed to overtime for the second time in three games, this time on the opposite end of an improbable comeback.

“We knew we couldn’t put out heads down,” said Mulvey. “We stayed positive [in the break before overtime]. We knew we had to get the first draw, get the first goal and have no turnovers.”

To win the first draw of overtime, it helped to have the program’s all-time leader taking it. Junior Stephanie Umbach, who broke the school record for career draw controls early in the second half, snagged her sixth of the game and the 229th of her career to get Muhlenberg off to a good start.

After the teams traded possessions, the Mules went ahead when sophomore Kelsey Nagle put in a rebound of a saved shot with 13.7 seconds left in the first overtime period.

Dickinson had the ball with a chance to tie midway through the second period, but freshman Allison Murnick checked the ball away, and Umbach picked it up. With 42.4 seconds left, Umbach scored an insurance goal, converting a pass from sophomore Casey Armstrong.

Mulvey (right) made her 11th save of the game in the last half-minute, and the Mules ran out the clock, allowing them to rush the field in celebration for a second time – this one for real.

Kaitlyn McCaffrey Umbach, the leading goal-scorer in Division III entering the week, finished with four goals to reach the 200-point mark for her career. Armstrong scored a game-high six points on three goals and three assists.

Muhlenberg held a 42-26 advantage in shots and appeared to have the game well in hand until Dickinson scored three goals, including the disputed final one, in the last 4:30 of regulation. The Red Devils scored two goals in the first 2:31 of the game but then went almost 23 minutes without finding the back of the net again, thanks to the stellar play of the Mule defense.

“The defense was phenomenal,” said Mulvey. “They came up with ground balls, caused turnovers and interceptions everywhere.”

Murnick recorded career highs of five ground balls and four caused turnovers. Senior Kaitlyn McCaffrey caused four turnovers to break a tie with herself for the school’s single-season record (43) and move within three of the career mark of 109. Junior Christina Vittorio and sophomore Amanda Orlak picked up four ground balls apiece.

They even got into the act on offense. Orlak notched her first career assist on a goal by junior Kayleigh Thies early in the second half, moments after McCaffrey (left) went coast-to-coast to score her third career goal – her second in the last two games.

“That was awesome! I passed it to her so I felt I should have gotten the assist,” said Mulvey with a laugh. “That gave us so much momentum. We went on a little run after that.”

The Mules hope to make a run to the playoffs, and their first overtime win since 2010 knocked down one hurdle: it was their first CC road win of the season, and they’ll need one more to reach their goal.

“This was a must-win situation for us, and we knew we had to come here with confidence,” said Mulvey. “This was such a great win. I can’t even put it into words.”
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