ITHACA – In what was expected to be a close championship game, the Vassar field hockey team (13-6) scored a penalty stroke goal in overtime to claim a 1-0 victory over Ithaca (14-5) in the Liberty League Championship game. The win marks the second Liberty League title in program history as Vassar won its first in 2018. Now the Brewers receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
The game played nearly identical to the earlier meeting in the regular season, with defenses setting the tone. A minute into the contest, senior Carina D’souza inserted the penalty corner to sophomore Hailer Brigger at the top of the circle. Routinely, she fired the shot and nearly scored before Ithaca’s Jacqueline Mirabile made the defensive stop. That proved to be the only shot for both teams in the first quarter as Vassar could not capitalize on its successive two corners.
Only one shot was taken in the second quarter when first-year Leilani Llamas launched a shot on frame, but this time goalkeeper Macy Brandwein recorded the top.
The Bombers’ offense woke up after the break and outshot the Brewers 7-1 in the second half. First-year Tori Baker opened the third with a shot on goal, but the goalie turned it aside. Ithaca then drew seven penalty corner attempts within two minutes, putting pressure on the Vassar defense. The backline held in when sophomore Heidi Compton made a defensive save at 38:22, and then junior Sarah Ryan made one of her on the next corner shot. Ithaca’s Morgan Mullen recorded another shot on goal, but this time it was senior Sophie McGrath tallying the goal-line stop.
Vassar goalkeeper Sarah Dumaresq turned aside a shot from Victoria Sestito at 40:20, and then the Brewers broke up the seventh corner attempt to keep the game scoreless.
At the fourth, the Bombers drew yet another penalty corner, and Brianna Lennon fired the attempt. Ryan positioned herself behind the goalie to earn her second defensive save of the game. Ithaca continued to use corners to keep up their momentum, but the Vassar defense did not break, and overtime was needed.
In overtime, Vassar broke up an Ithaca corner to prevent any shot, and then junior Ella Pearl managed to shoot at 64:45 but hit the goalkeeper. A foul inside the Bombers’ box at 65:30 gave the Brewers a penalty stroke attempt. Brigger lined up for the shot and slid the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal to provide Vassar with the victory.