BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Lehigh field hockey team came back from two deficits to force overtime, where senior Abby Tilton netted her second goal of the game, to give the Mountain Hawks (1-3) a thrilling 4-3 win over La Salle on Sunday. The Mountain Hawks trailed 2-0 and 3-2, but continued to fight back, receiving the tying goal from junior Kim Eng to lead into Tilton’s heroics.
“It was an incredible feeling to score that goal,” said Tilton. “We’ve been waiting for this and it finally happened today. We just need to move forward from here.”
Following good offensive pressure from La Salle, an odd-man rush broke out barely two minutes into the extra session. Tilton carried the ball into the offensive end, where she made a lead pass to Eng. After bringing it into the circle, Eng centered to Tilton, who made a redirection into the opposite corner of the cage for the game-winner at 72:20.
Tilton led the way with a career-high two goals; she also added an assist for a career-high five points. Eng posted a goal and assist while sophomore Caitlyn Mitchell got the scoring started with her first-career goal. Senior Caitlin Donnelly added an assist as did freshman Erika Schmidt, marking the first point of her career.
“The girls never gave up,” said Lehigh head coach Stacey Blue. “It was a hard-fought win. We always talk about continuing to fight and they did just that. Everything started to connect.”
The overtime thriller marked Lehigh’s second straight home game to go into an extra session. The Mountain Hawks also scored their most goals since a 4-0 win at Siena last Sept. 22.
Sophomore goalkeeper Sierra Segear was stellar in her second straight start, making 14 saves including a number of clutch stops to keep Lehigh in the game. Sophomores Marie Mignogna and Emily Torcivia added defensive saves for the Mountain Hawks.
La Salle jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind goals from Olivia Shoemaker and Haley Jennings at 6:03 and 12:05, respectively. The Mountain Hawks tied it only 3:44 later as Tilton found Mitchell for her first-career goal (and point) to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Tilton found the back of the cage herself just 11 minutes later at 26:49, redirecting an impressive cross from Schmidt past La Salle goalkeeper Lisa Shaffer to even the game at two.
The teams played scoreless field hockey for more than 24 minutes until the next goal midway through the second half. Segear made a strong save off Mariel Papa’s initial shot, but the rebound bounced right to Maddy Tettelbach, who found the open cage to make it 3-2 at 51:05.
Once again, the resilient Mountain Hawks fought back, needing only 4:15 to tie the score once again. This time, it came off a penalty corner as Donnelly found Eng, who fired a low shot past Shaffer to make it 3-3 with just under 15 minutes remaining in regulation.
Both sides continued to have chances through the end of regulation, but couldn’t convert the go-ahead goal. Just 2:20 into overtime, though, the Mountain Hawks had their first shot of the extra session and made it count, giving them their first overtime win since defeating Fairfield on Oct. 14, 2009.
“It feels great [to get over the hump],” said Blue. “The whole coaching staff knows we can win. I hope this helps the girls believe in it a little more. They’re a great team and when they all come to play, they can be amazing.”
La Salle led the final shot count, 25-20 while penalty corners were even at nine. Lehigh made 16 saves (14 by Segear) while the Explorers finished with eight (seven from Shaffer).
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Quinnipiac to face the Bobcats in a game originally postponed due to Hurricane Irene. Lehigh then hosts Fairfield next Saturday before heading to Saint Joseph’s next Sunday.