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Muhlenberg College

Friday, October 26, 2007

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field hockey wins finale in rain

The four seniors on the Muhlenberg field hockey team have been making a splash ever since they arrived on campus four years ago, and they did it again in what might have been their last home game.

Seniors Kelly Shetron and Lauren Rutt scored the goals as the Mules came from behind to defeat No. 19 Gettysburg, 2-1, in the pouring rain on Senior Night.

Muhlenberg finished the regular season 12-6 overall and 7-3 in the Centennial Conference. If Franklin & Marshall
Jess Kasza
Kasza’s assist on the tying goal was the first point of her career.
defeats Swarthmore on Saturday, the Mules (12-6, 7-3) will entertain Gettysburg again on Wednesday night in the first round of the CC playoffs. A Swarthmore win gives Muhlenberg the third seed and a first-round bye.

“The field was so waterlogged, it was ridiculous. Getting the ball through [the puddles] was tough,” said Rutt, who scored the game-winner on a straight-on shot from inside 10 yards 57 seconds into overtime. “But we didn’t let the rain get to us and we just pumped ourselves up more.”

The Bullets (11-6, 7-3) took advantage of the conditions to score the first goal of the game off a penalty corner midway through the first half. A shot from the right wing skidded on the wet turf and went into the cage.

Muhlenberg came out on the offensive in the second half and netted the equalizer with 8:19 elapsed. The Mules scored off the second of two consecutive penalty corners when Shetron tipped in a pass from freshman Jess Kasza at the left post for her ninth goal of the season.

Muhlenberg dominated most of the second half, not allowing Gettysburg a shot until the last 10 minutes.

“Tonight we really put together a complete game,” said Rutt. “We usually play better in one half than in the other, which is something we have to work on. In the second half we built on the first half.”

Regulation ended with some excitement, as the Bullets were awarded a penalty corner with 40 seconds left. The Mules cleared the ball to sophomore Nicki Notarianni, who beat one defender and had an open path to the goalie from midfield. Time expired just after she entered the circle, however, and Muhlenberg was headed to its fourth overtime game of the season.

This one didn’t last long. Rutt took a quick shot that was deflected out for a long hit. She picks up the description: “I remember the ball being on my right. I picked it up and saw three defenders in the area, but spaced out, and I thought I could weave through them. With my head down, I saw that the goalie was coming out and leaving the right post open, so I just tried to get it in there.”

She did, giving the Mules their first win against a nationally ranked team since a 3-2 victory against Montclair State in 2003. Gettysburg’s five previous losses all came to teams ranked in the top 10 (No. 2 Lebanon Valley, No. 4 Christopher Newport, No. 6 Ursinus, No. 7 Johns Hopkins and No. 10 Messiah).

Muhlenberg had lost to nationally ranked teams in its last three CC games, but enters the playoffs with a win against one. So what would be better, getting to play at home one more time or avoiding the first-round game?

“If we get that third seed and go to Ursinus or Johns Hopkins, it pushes us one step closer to the championship,” concluded Rutt, who was honored along with Shetron, Jillian Duffy and Nikki Rhoads prior to the game. “But if we have to play Gettysburg again, we’ll be so ready.”

Click here for box score.

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