Otis' OT goal pushes Merrimack into national semifinals, beats Stonehill
EASTON, Mass. -- Down by a goal with under eight minutes to play, freshman Nicole Bradley scored to send the game to overtime, and midway through the first sudden-victory session, senior Jessica Otis found the back of the cage on a penalty corner, as third-seeded Merrimack stunned second-seeded Stonehill 4-3. The win sends the Warriors to the NCAA tournament semifinals for the third consecutive season.
Stonehill was Merrimack's opponent for the third game in a row – the Warriors defeated Stonehill in their regular-season finale before falling in the NE-10 semifinals to the Skyhawks eight days ago.
Merrimack outshot the hosts by an 8-3 margin in the first hal and needed less than 10 minutes to get on the board, as rookie Maura Doyle received a feed from senior Candace Waldie at the near post and scored to put the Warriors ahead at 9:13.
Nearly 15 minutes later, the Warriors doubled their lead thanks to the efforts of sophomore Katrina Squeri, who pounced on a goalmouth scramble and found the black on the far side of the cage at 23:06, sending the visitors into the locker room with a 2-0 lead at the break.
Saturday's contest wound up playing out as opposite as last Friday's NE-10 semifinal when Stonehill roared ahead to a three-goal lead in the first half before Merrimack stormed back, only to fall by a goal.
On Saturday, the Skyhawks were the ones to start slow but charge all the way back in the second stanza thanks to a 9-2 edge in shots on target. That offensive burst led to three Stonehill goals in a span of 8:21 to start the half, as Merrimack's lead suddenly evaporated, forcing the Warriors to play from behind not even 10 minutes into the second half.
Devin Ingersoll scored on a penalty corner at 37:39 to put the home side on the board before the league's leading goalscorer in Erika Kelly registered her 38th marker of the year on a penalty stroke to tie it up in the 42nd minute. Less than 90 seconds later, Ingersoll buried her own rebound to put the Skyhawks ahead 3-2 with more than 25 minutes left in regulation.
Instead of deflating, the Warriors dug deep and saw sophomore Madison Davis make several key saves during the ensuing 20 minutes to keep Merrimack within striking distance.
Finally, in the 63rd minute, the Warriors were awarded one of their 12 penalty corners on the afternoon, and after a scrum in front, Bradley picked up the loose ball and pushed it past Stonehill keeper Elizabeth Genovese for the game-tying marker that sent the contest into overtime after three more saves from Davis down the stretch.
In the sudden-victory period, Merrimack controlled play and attempted all three shots, including the game winner from Otis on a penalty corner at 78:04 that punched the Warriors' ticket to the national semifinals.