Califano's Late Goal Lifts Field Hockey to Big Win

Friday, October 18, 2013

It was an important game that couldn’t have started much worse or finished much better for the Muhlenberg field hockey team.

The Mules gave up a goal a little over two minutes in, but rebounded to defeat Gettysburg, 3-2, on a goal off a penalty corner by junior Allie Califano with just 23.3 seconds remaining. Junior Kayleigh Thies assisted on the winner, tying the school record for career assists.

Allie Califano The win pushes Muhlenberg (6-7, 5-3) into fourth place in the Centennial Conference with two games – both at home – remaining in the regular season. The Mules started the day tied in the loss column with Gettysburg (8-5, 3-4), with their four CC wins coming against the bottom four teams in the standings.

“We knew we had to beat them to have any chance of being in the playoffs,” said Califano. “And we came through and got the win. It’s so exciting.”

Muhlenberg had to come from behind twice in the game, the first time after Gettysburg scored on a rebound with only 2:11 elapsed.

“It all happened so fast,” said Califano (right). “After the other team scores we always say that we want to score in the next two minutes, so we just kind of said, let’s go score a goal.”

The Mules accomplished their mission with 15 seconds to spare. Only a minute and 45 seconds after the Bullets’ goal, senior Mariah Alston tied the game with a blast from the right wing that deflected off a Gettysburg stick high into the cage.

It was the second goal in as many games for Alston, who hadn’t scored all season coming into the week, and it marked the first time in the last 19 years that a Muhlenberg field hockey game featured two goals in the first five minutes.

Alston’s goal negated the early Bullet strike and set the stage for a back-and-forth game the rest of the way. Gettysburg pulled ahead 2-1 at the 15:26 mark but did not score again thanks to strong work by the Mule defense and junior Sierra Lenker, who made 10 saves.

Lenker made half of her saves in the first 10 minutes of the second half, keeping the Mules within one, and her efforts paid off when junior Christine Germaske tipped in a pass from Thies with 23:21 left to tie the score.

That set the stage for the dramatic finish. Muhlenberg was awarded a penalty corner with under a minute to play. Thies took the insertion and hit it into the stroke area, where Califano tipped it in for her first career goal.

“It’s funny because my first lacrosse goal was at Gettysburg last year too,” noted Califano. “There must be something about Gettysburg.”

The goal was the first last-minute game-winner for the Mules since one with 53 seconds left against Haverford in 2009, and Thies’ second assist of the game gave her 17 for her career, tying the school record set by recent Hall of Fame inductee Kristen Bruschi (2001-04).

The result turned the tables on the Bullets, who in the last game between the teams played at the Battlefield scored a dispute goal with only 6:22 remaining for a 3-2 win.

“It’s always a great game against them,” said Califano. “This win meant a lot to the seniors because they had never beaten Gettysburg. We were all just so pumped.”
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