LANCASTER, Pa. – An early second half goal toppled the No. 4 Franklin & Marshall field hockey team as No. 5 Ursinus held on for the 1-0 win, capturing its third straight Centennial Conference (CC) Title on Sunday afternoon at Tylus Field.
The Diplomats fell to 16-3 on the season, while the Bears (17-3) earned the automatic qualifier for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. F&M will learn its NCAA fate this evening when bracket information is release and can be found here.
Ursinus' offense was in control through the opening 35 minutes of action, dominating play in its attacking zone and leading the shot count by a 9-2 margin. The Bears nearly capitalized off a number of their six corners in the first half, however, the Diplomats' defense held strong to keep the contest scoreless heading into the break.
In the second, Ursinus needed just two minutes to finally light the scoreboard when a scrum in front was collected on the right side by Amber Steigerwalt and slid over to Ann Kopera, who deflected a ball in on cage for the 1-0 advantage.
Down by a 1-0 score, the Diplomats' offense began to show life, peppering a barrage of opportunities on cage and seeing their best chance to even the score with seven minutes remaining. A Maria Guarisco shot from the top of the circle was deflected down low by Lauren Eastman, but sailed just wide of the goal.
F&M pulled its goalkeeper with four minutes left in the contest, but was unable to generate much pressure in the closing minutes as Ursinus held on for the narrow win.
The overall shot count favored the Bears at 12-9, but F&M made a second-half push and led by a 7-3 margin. Anne Horsley, Eastman and Guarisco tallied a pair each, while Tournament MVP Megan Keenan led the Bears with five.
Ilianna Santangelo (12-2) suffered the hard-luck loss for the Diplomats after picking up four saves, while Ursinus' Danielle DeSpirito (16-3) secured the victory with three stops.
Check back with GoDiplomats.com tomorrow for the latest NCAA Tournament news for F&M.