Rock women win third straight, pull out 7-6 OT victory

Published by Brendan Howe, Author: Brendan Howe - Rocket Contributor, Date: April 19, 2018

On Monday afternoon, the Slippery Rock University women’s lacrosse squad triumphed in a thrilling overtime victory over the conference-rival Kutztown Golden Bears. In the middle leg of a three-game road trip, the green-and-white won its third consecutive league contest.

The first shot of the game came from junior midfielder Tia Torchia’s stick, buzzing past Kutztown goalie Haley Kline before caroming off the bar and away from the net. Redshirt senior midfielder Jasey Sanders opened the game’s scoring with a free position goal eight minutes in. Only 17 ticks later, Kutztown’s leading scorer, attacker Sarah Gabriele returned the favor by netting her 29th goal of the season.

Two more SRU shots deflected off the post in the following five minutes and, ensuring the score was kept even at 1-1, Emily Bitka defended her goal with five saves before her team recaptured the lead. With six minutes remaining in the first half, midfielder Caitlyn Byerly tallied the fourth score of her freshman campaign. Just three seconds prior to the period-ending alarm, senior attacker Bre Vodde put a third SRU goal, her season’s 20th, behind Kline.

Kutztown wasted little time chipping into the two-goal lead the Rock carried into the halftime, as Makayla Bowman bested Bitka and pulled her Golden Bears within one with less than a minute off the second-half clock. The Rock got back on the attack minutes later, getting a trio of shots toward Kline, two of them sailing wide. Bitka turned away the next two free position shots fired at her but could not keep the third out of the back of the cage, knotting the score at 3-3 with 20 minutes left in regulation.

The women exchanged goals into the final two minutes, and the Rock found itself trailing until sophomore midfielder Tori Penders evened the score with 1:12 to go on a tally assisted by Torchia. The teams entered a six minute overtime period with a half-dozen goals each. A foul on Kutztown’s Megan Vaughn led to sophomore midfielder ShyAnne Toomer’s game-winning mark on a free position.

Slippery Rock managed ten more shots in the contest than the Golden Bears, who came into game out-shooting their competition 307-245 through nine games. The Rock also held an advantage in ground balls and free position shots over its counterpart.

Emily Bitka denied eleven shots, one of them coming in overtime from Gabriele’s stick, and set the single-season school record for ground balls for a second straight year. She earned her third win in a span of seven days, a week in which she posted a .635 save percentage and 6.47 goals against average. With the victory, the senior goalkeeper improved her impressive season record to 8-3.

The Rock will wrap up their trio of road contests against the Fighting Scots of Edinboro University on Wednesday.


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