KINGSTON — It was a game worthy of a clash between two unbeaten teams, going down to the final whistle.
As players from both teams surrounded Wyoming Seminary goalie Hannah Dressler, who was on the ground trying to block the Crusaders' final scoring chance on a penalty corner with time expired, an official sounded her whistle.
Fans from both teams looked toward the goal as the players stared, waiting for a signal. Then the Blue Knights players began to celebrate – they had held on for a 5-4 victory on their home field.
"We got away with one," Wyoming Seminary coach Karen Klassner said. "I'm happy we're done with them. They are a good team. But this is a good sign for us, with a lot of new players. You've got to find a way to win games like this."
"When you're in a big scrum like that, almost anything can happen," Coughlin coach Colleen Wood said of the final play. "We thought maybe the ball was covered there (which would result in a penalty stroke), but the official said the ball hit a foot there."
The game featured a pair of standout netminders. Dressler was a playoff hero for Seminary, stepping into the starting lineup and going unbeaten in the postseason. Coughlin's Paige Tedik is considered by some to be the best returning goalie in the WVC this season.
Both had save percentages among the conference leaders (Tedik .923, Dressler .917) at the start of the game. Nine goals later …
"We're using a new system and our positioning is not just the best right now," Klassner said. "Our defense didn't help Hannah in the circle."
"We have one returning starter on defense," Wood said. "It's coming along. That's what you want every game, to get better as you go."
A 1-all tilt through the first 27 minutes looked as if it was suddenly turning into a rout. The Blue Knights scored three goals in 5:28 to open a 4-1 lead. Kristen Mericle redirected a shot tipped by Mallory Lefkowitz with 2:38 left in the first half.
In the second half, Alexis Quick scored just inside the short-side post on a corner 59 seconds in.
Morgan Malone scored her second of the game two minutes later when a rush into the circle by Quick got the ball to Lefkowitz, who centered to an open Malone for a 4-1 edge.
"We've got some new kids in some new positions," Klassner said. "Morgan Malone (two goals, two assists) played a real good game. Alexis Quick, Mallory Lefkowitz, too."
Caitlin Wood's blast from the top of the circle on a corner made it 4-2 with 20 minutes to play. But Lefkowitz scored her team-leading fifth of the season by going against the grain on Tedik – shooting to the keeper's left as she came across the goal to her right to reset the three-goal advantage.
"After I moved Caitlin to the right, we got a lot more opportunities," coach Wood said of a position switch from center mid to the forward line. "Having so many young players up front, we just needed another catalyst there."
Madysen Jones scored twice in a five-minute span for Coughlin, giving her a WVC-best 10 goals this season, to make it 5-4 with 11 minutes to play.
First half: 1. SEM, Morgan Malone (Alexis Quick), 27:55; 2. COU, Madysen Jones (Kelsey Gabriele), 17:10; 3. SEM, Kristen Mericle (Mallory Lefkowitz), 2:38. Second half: 4. SEM, Quick (Malone), 29:01; 5. SEM, Malone (Lefkowitz), 27:10; 6. COU, Caitlin Wood (Kate Colleran), 20:41; 7. SEM, Lefkowitz (Malone), 17:05; 8. COU, Jones (C. Wood), 16:02; 9. COU, Jones (Brigid Wood), 11:02
Shots: COU 13, SEM 12; Saves: COU 5 (Paige Tedik 5, Allison Novak 0), SEM 8 (Hannah Dressler); Corners: COU 5, SEM 7.