PHILADELPHIA – Two second half goals by top-seed Drexel, including the game-winner with just four seconds left to play, ended the University of Delaware's field hockey season in stunning fashion Saturday as the Blue Hens fell to the 18th-ranked Dragons in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals Saturday at Buckley Field.
The No. 5 seed Blue Hens were just seconds away from extending their thrilling run through the CAA Tournament before Drexel's Margaux Lourtie collected a rebound and fired in shot in the back of the cage to send the Dragons to the CAA title game.
Drexel will take on No. 2 seed Northeastern, which defeated No. 3 seed James Madison 3-2 in the other semifinal game, Sunday at 3 p.m.
“Today we knew we were going to play a very good team in the Number one seed, Drexel, and we pushed them to the very end,” said Delaware second-year head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof, who has led both of his Delaware teams to CAA Tournament appearances. “It was a championship-caliber game with both team having momentum shifts throughout the match.”
The Blue Hens, who upset No. 4 seed William & Mary 3-2 in the CAA quarterfinals on Friday, had defeated Drexel 4-2 on the same field just two week earlier but could not finish things off this time.
Delaware was looking to advance to the title game for the first time since 2009 when the Hens downed Drexel to capture the league title.
Delaware, with a lineup that featured 12 newcomers, ended its season with a mark of 8-12 overall while Drexel improved to 14-6 overall and 5-2 mark in the conference. The winner of the title game Sunday will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Delaware struck first at the 15 minute mark of the first half when freshman Michaela Patzner (at right) got loose on a breakaway and beat Drexel goalkeeper Jantien Gunter one-on-one for her seventh goal of the season. Patzner smashed the ball into the right corner of the Dragons’ cage to give the Hens a lead that would hold up until early in the second half.
Drexel knotted the game at 1-1 at the 41:21 mark, scoring just over six minutes into the second half when Lindsay McArdle knocked in a shot from the top of the box from off a penalty corner supplied by Amanda Fleischut.
That tie would remain intact until the final seconds when the Dragons scored the game-winner. Fleischut rifled a shot on goal that Delaware goalkeeper Sarah Scher turned away and deflected out to the side. But Lourtie was in the right place at the right time as she gathered in the rebound and fired the game-winner past Scher to the right side of the cage to net the game-winner.
The Blue Hens were outshot by the Dragons 16-10 as Kelsey McKee led the Blue Hen with three shots on goal. McArdle led Drexel with five shots on goal.
Scher made six saves for the Blue Hens on the day while Drexel’s Gunter tallied seven stops for the Dragons.
The game marked the final appearance in a Blue Hen uniform for three seniors - Nikki Onorato, Carley Hecht, and Tory Sharpless.
“As a program we have taken a step forward thanks to a lot of great efforts, including our seniors,” said van de Kerkhof. “The future is bright for Delaware’s field hockey program because of the hard work of our players.”