Gettysburg College’s dream of capturing a third straight NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse national title came tumbling down in a 10-7 defeat at the hands of visiting Wesleyan University in quarterfinal on Sunday afternoon at Clark Field in Gettysburg.
The top-ranked Bullets trailed 6-3 at halftime and had closed the gap to 7-6 before a 40-minute lightning delay with 17 minutes to go. The teams returned to the field and played for 13 minutes before another 40-minute lightning delay that came with four minutes left and the Cardinals holding a 9-6 lead.
Syndey Prokupek’s man-up goal with 2:35 left put the match out of the reach of the two-time defending national champions.
“This was two good teams going at it today,” Gettysburg head coach Carol Cantele said. “They played great defense. They were playing a different zone than we’re used to seeing and it was hard to adjust to.
“They collapsed on our shots, didn’t allow us good looks and their goalie was super hot today.
Wesleyan netminder Allegra Grant recorded 10 saves to help her side to victory, a day after notching 11 in the Cards’ 13-7 win over No. 2 Washington & Lee University.
“Wesleyan played lights-out,” Gettysburg senior co-captain Steph Colson said. “We played well, but they were a little bit better than us today.”
Gettysburg (19-2) jumped out to a 2-0 advantage on a pair of markers from Liza Barr in the first ten minutes of the match.
Goals by Abby Manning and Kat Cucillo evened things before Gettysburg’s Lauren Cole deposited a man-up goal with 9:36 to go in the opening half, pushing the hosts back in front.
The visitors dominated the rest of the first half and Cucillo’s tally with 10 seconds to play until the break gave them a 6-3 advantage.
“They play in the toughest conference in the country (NESCAC) and they’ve been knocking on the door of reaching the Final Four for the last few years,” Cantele said. “They finally got there this year.”
Wesleyan (17-3) had lost in the quarterfinals in each of the previous two seasons, and is going to the national semifinals for the first time in school history. They will be joined two other NESCAC schools, Middlebury College and Tufts University.
The Bullets weren’t quite ready to give up on their goal of three-peating as they roared from the gates to begin the second half with a pair of goals from Kerry McKeever in the opening two minutes out of the half to draw within 6-5.
Manning stemmed the tide with a goal at the 25:09 mark of the second half, but McKeever answered five minutes later.
Out of the first weather stoppage, the Cardinals increased their advantage to 9-6 on goals from Johanna Copeland and Caitlin Wood.
“We knew being down three goals with four minutes to play during the second delay that it was going to be tough,” Colson said. “We never stopped believing that we could win. We were joking around and loose, but we knew it would be tough to do.”
Colson wraps up a magnificent career that saw her win Player of the Game honors in each of the national title wins, along with being the 2018 IWLCA Division III Player of the Year. She finished her time in Orange and Blue with 96 goals and 51 assists.
“I’m sure I’ll remember this as being my last game, but I’ll remember all of the great wins that we had, too,” she said. “I’ve loved my time here at Gettysburg. The coaches and the girls have all been great.”
Meanwhile, McKeever, a sophomore, scored 64 goals this season and already has 107 in her career. Barr, a junior, set the new school record for assists in a season with 75 to go along with 52 goals this season.
The loss ends a 16-match postseason winning streak that includes Centennial Conference tournament titles this year and in 2018.
“No one here is feeling good right now, but when we look back on it over time, we’ll realize how much we’ve accomplished,” Cantele said. “We’ll be ready to go again in September to prepare to try to make another run at it next year.”
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas
Wesleyan 6 4 — 10
Gettysburg 3 4 — 7
Goals: W-Abby Manning 4, Caitlin Wood 2, Kat Cucillo 2, Sydney Prokupek, Johanna Copeland; G-Kerry McKeever 3, Liza Barr 2, Courtney Patterson, Lauren Cole. Assists: W-Manning 3, Prokupek 2, Abigail Horst, Julia Gretsky; G-Steph Colson, Ella Orzechowski, Maria Nemeth, Barr. Shots: W-20; G-23. Draws: W-8; G-11. Saves: W-Allegra Grant (10); G-Bailey Pilder (6)