BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College is going to take a look back at its 2013-14 athletic campaign with a pair of top 10 lists. The first list starting today will be the top 10 exciting games and fantastic finishes from the past year with a look at our No. 10 highlight – the field hockey team winning back-to-back overtime matches over Susquehanna University and Neumann University.
The Greyhounds, who were 9-8 overall last season, played a total of four overtime matches in 2013 but the two most exciting were the back-to-back matches that ended with a 2-1 victory over Susquehanna to open the Landmark Conference season on September 28 and a 5-4 win at Neumann University on October 2. Both contests saw Moravian come from behind and force the overtime session before earning the victory.
Head Coach Amy Endler looked back at the two matches as a good thing for her squad. "I remember that it showed the character of our team to be able to win against a conference foe and come back from a two-goal deficit on the road. The latter helped later in the season when we found ourselves down by two at Goucher College to finish the season. They both were very exciting but I would much rather win in regulation."
Against Susquehanna on the turf at Rocco Calvo Field on sunny Saturday afternoon, the Crusaders opened the scoring in the 34th with a goal. It didn't take long for the Greyhounds to tie the match at 1-1 as senior Chelsea Grotyohann scored on a penalty stroke to end the first half. The contest would remain tied throughout the second half and head to overtime.
"Overtime is different with field hockey in that we take four players off the field to open up the field to create more scoring chances," stated Endler. "In three of our four overtime games, we were behind and forced overtime, so I felt like we would have the momentum going in to OT. I tell them that they have to stay focused because things happen fast in OT so the margin of error is slimmer. It depends on each game who we as coaches decide who will be on the field at the start of overtime. Qualities include, calm under pressure, physically fit, and the desire to do whatever it takes to get the victory. There are opportunities to substitute during OT so everyone on the sideline has to be ready."
The Hounds needed just 2:17 of the first 15-minute overtime session versus the Crusaders to earn the victory. Senior Keriann Badessa had the first shot just 37 seconds into overtime but it was blocked. Just over two minutes in, Moravian received a penalty corner after a foul in the circle. Grotyohann inserted the ball that eventually found its way to sophomore forward Kelly O'Donnell in front of the net. O'Donnell's first shot was blocked by the Susquehanna keeper but she cleaned up the rebound from about five yards out under the goalie and between a pair of defenders for the winning goal.
"My first reaction to scoring a game winning goal was that I was in complete and utter shock," stated O'Donnell. "I just remember running into the circle, completely wore out and out of breath, just thinking to myself that we need to score. As soon as I got that shot off and the ball hit the back of the net, I sprang up and went around hugging my teammates. It truly was an amazing feeling not only for myself but also that I gave that feeling to my teammates too."
For Coach Endler, starting the conference season with a win was crucial.
"Beating Susquehanna to open Landmark play really gave us lift for the rest of the season," explained Endler. "It gave our team confidence going into other games. The entire game was exciting. We tied the game with no time remaining in the first half on a stroke scored by Chelsea. Going into overtime, I felt like we had the momentum and being at home helped. We were able to control the ball right from the start of OT and force a corner. The players executed it well and Kelly was in the right place for the rebound."
Four days later, the Greyhounds were back on the field down at Neumann for a Wednesday afternoon non-conference match. O'Donnell kept her scoring touch, giving Moravian a 1-0 lead in just the third minute. The lead was short lived as the Knights scored just over two minutes later. Junior midfielder Catherine Duffin put the Hounds back ahead 2-1 in the 25th minute; however, Neumann scored twice before halftime for a 3-2 lead.
The Knights also opened the scoring in the second half to go ahead 4-2. After that goal, Coach Endler addressed her team.
"When we were down against Neumann, I called a timeout to tell the players that we needed to play better, more as a team, and to pick up our intensity," Endler said. "They responded and played inspired field hockey over the last ten minutes of regulation and overtime. Catherine played incredibly and the rest of the team followed her lead. We once again capitalized on a corner play that the players executed perfectly."
Just over three minutes after the timeout, the Hounds put a pair of shots on goal before Grotyohann was awarded another penalty stroke. She converted again to cut the deficit to one. Moravian needed just over a minute and one more shot as junior forward Taylor Holly found the back of the cage to tie the game in the 61st minute.
In overtime, the Knights controlled play at the beginning with a shot on goal and a penalty corner. However, the Greyhounds were able to flip the field and move into the offensive end. Grotyohann started a penalty corner four the Hounds, and Duffin would drill the game-winning goal 5:20 into overtime to cap the comeback and extend Moravian's winning streak to five games.
"Scoring a game-winning goal in overtime is by far one of the best feelings a player could feel during a game," Duffin explained. "My first reaction was to jump as high as I could in the air and hug my teammates. Moravian's really slow start in the first half made it easier for Neumann to stay in the game. With the way our opponent was playing, I knew that as a team we had to pick the intensity up if we wanted to finish the game on top. I remember everyone stepping up at different moments, and together we fought hard and were determined to win. I remember trailing Neumann 4-2 late in the game, but from the way the game was going, I knew that it was anyone's game. Our momentum continued to rise especially after Chelsea Grotyohann scored on a penalty stroke. Now that we were only trailing Neumann by one goal, I could feel the desire from the entire team; on and off the field. I then remember dribbling up the field towards Neumann's goal and crossing the ball to my teammate Taylor Holly, who found the back of the net on a one-time shot. No words could describe what I or the rest of the team was feeling. We were ecstatic. That day we refused to lose, and with our team's intensity, we came out on top.
"Having to rally to win back-to-back overtime games is difficult enough, but to rally from a two-goal deficit to win the second game is certainly even harder," Duffin continued. "I remember feeling overjoyed after our victory over Neumann University which gave us that second overtime game win. Winning is great, but winning as a team, especially in overtime, is even better, and that day we did just that."
O'Donnell shared the feeling that winning in overtime benefited the squad.
"Winning two back to back overtime games was definitely a morale booster for the team. Especially coming back from losing and just overcoming that and not getting down, it really boosted the team. The team had more confidence, more trust and support of each other and it really did help us to keep our heads level to continue on further. Overall, it was an inspiring feeling to play with such amazing girls in those games."
Number nine on our Top 10 Exciting Games and Fantastic Finishes will be announced on Tuesday, July 15.