Christopher Newport earns first trip to national semifinals, edges Catholic 1-0
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- For the second consecutive game, Shelby Judkins scored the lone goal and the defense pieced together a suffocating effort as Christopher Newport advanced to the national semifinals for the first time in program history with a 1-0 victory against Catholic on Sunday afternoon at Captains Turf Field.
With less than eight minutes remaining in regulation, Judkins converted off a feed from Marlene Lichty to give the Captains all the scoring they would need. On the defensive end, CNU was tremendous. Bailey Lien fronted that effort with four saves on the way to the team's program-best 11th shutout of the season. The victory also stands as Lien's 20th of the year, which is now a NCAA freshman record.
Overall, Christopher Newport improves to 21-1 and will open up against Bowdoin at 11 a.m. Friday. The Polar Bears advanced after upsetting top-seeded Montclair State 1-0 on Sunday.
After battling to a scoreless draw through 60 minutes of high-intensity, back-and-forth action, the Captains landed their biggest blow of the season. With time winding down, Belle Tunstall stole the ball on the far side of the field and stormed into the Catholic zone. Although the Cardinals held up against the initial attempt, CNU never relented.
Eventually, the hosts earned a penalty corner and Lichty grabbed control of the roller near the top of the zone. After pushing it toward the cage, she sent a seed to Judkins, who turned and fired shot that scooted through the defense for the game's only goal at 62:18.
Holding the lead, it was the defense's turn to come through with some late-game heroics. Lien stoned a dart by Maura Campbell following a penalty corner. Shortly thereafter, Allie Hackbarth came through with a textbook tackle at the top of the zone to clear the ball momentarily with three minutes remaining in regulation.
After the Cardinals regained control, the Captains had to survive a frantic final minute. Kelsey Clark stoned a surge in the final 30 seconds before Catholic pieced together one last scoring opportunity. On a mad scramble, the visitors gained control of the ball next to the far post, but the CNU back line came storming in and CUA was unable to snap off a shot as the hosts cleared the roller to seal the historic victory.
Overall, Christopher Newport held a 16-7 lead in shots and equaled Catholic with 12 penalty corners. Megan Communale matched Lien with four saves during the game, while Kiera McGovern came through with a crucial defensive save for the Cardinals in the first half.
The frenetic pace at the end of the game was matched throughout the first 60 minutes. Less than five minutes into the contest, Jordan Snider clamped down on a CUA penalty corner and sent a feed out to Tunstall.
With some open spaces, Tunstall cruised down the field along the far side. Although Tunstall's initial run was cut off, the Captains kept the ball in the zone for a solid surge. That stretch featured an incredible play by Lauren Cheatham, who tipped the ball to herself and cleared a pair of defenders before running out of space next to the far post.
Following Christopher Newport's run, Catholic responded with a string of penalty corners. In the middle of the period, the visitors earned three consecutive corners during a one-minute span. Unfazed, the defense held it together. Lien made a great stop on the first attempt before Lichty batted away the second at the top of the circle. Later, the Cardinals' third opportunity was deflected and went soaring out of bounds.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Cardinals returned to the Captain zone and earned three more corners. Once again, the defense was up to the task as CNU stymied every attempt before Lichty intercepted the final roller and dished out wide to Sarah Miller, who cleared the ball for a much deserved breath.
After surviving several Catholic spurts, Christopher Newport went on the attack during the final few minutes of the period. The hosts unloaded the last six shots of the half, including a rocket off Snider's stick that was turned away by McGovern along the near post.
Following halftime, the Captains regained control and kept the pressure on the Catholic defense. Once again, the squad strung together six consecutive shots but could not find an opening.
After withstanding the early second-half scare, the Cardinals fired back. The visitors earned four corners, but Judkins and Chelsea Hines stamped out a few opportunities, while Lien kicked away the initial attempt to keep Catholic off the board. Later, after blocking another CUA shot in the 59th minute, the Captains regained control and pieced together a season-saving final stretch, highlighted by Judkins' 11th goal of the season to seal the quarterfinal victory.