Down two goals on the road and with their backs against the wall, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania field hockey team stormed back in the second half and overtime to stun home-standing Mansfield University Tuesday.
Dani Edwards (senior, merchandising) took a pass from Chelsea Wanamaker (junior, psychology) just over five minutes into the overtime period to catapult IUP to its first win in nearly two weeks and helped avenge an early season 2-1 overtime loss to Mansfield, keeping the Crimson Hawks’ Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoff hopes alive.
“Scoring the winning goal was very exciting for me, but more exciting when I turned around, and my entire team was running at me cheering and screaming,” Edwards said.
“We are a resilient bunch,” head coach Gary Agard said. “Sometimes I think they thrive off adversity. We were always confident in our abilities to come back from deficits. We have been doing it all season. This time it worked out to our advantage.
“We were trying to press a little, which took us out of our game plan. Once we became calm and focused, we began to play better.”
The Crimson Hawks continued their trend of starting out games slowly.
Starting deficits have plagued IUP all season and have been especially taxing on a team that has lost six games decided by one goal.
Taryn Schawillie got the Mountaineers on the board just 19 seconds into the game, as she took a pass from Lacey Croasdale and buried her 10th goal of the season past IUP goalkeeper Darian Shuker (junior, business).
IUP had chances to level the score in the first half, as they held a 6-1 advantage in penalty corners and outshot Mansfield 9-3, but could not find the back of the cage.
In the 47th minute, Mansfield doubled their lead when Croasdale took a corner pass from Kayla Grunza and knocked it into the net to make the score 2-0.
IUP kept up the pressure in the second half, taking 10 shots compared to Mansfield’s one, and forced Mountaineer goalkeeper Kristie Rollman to make five second-half saves.
After an IUP timeout in the 53rd minute, the Crimson Hawks came out and took two penalty corners, which resulted in a shot on goal by Casey McGowan (junior, physical education) that was saved by Rollman. Another penalty corner and another shot by IUP’s Brielle Mackey (senior, human resource management) that Rollman saved kept the score at 2-0.
McGowan got the Crimson Hawks on the scoreboard seconds later when she converted a penalty stroke for her sixth goal of the season, cutting Mansfield’s lead to 2-1.
The Crimson Hawks’ comeback was completed in the 61st minute when Kate Bruce (senior, business management) took a Wanamaker pass and buried her sixth goal of the season, which is tied for second most on the team.
Mackey took a penalty corner for IUP when the ball found the stick of Wanamaker. Wanamaker, who now has a team-leading seven assists, then passed to Bruce, whose shot was deflected over Rollman and into the cage.
“Kate [Bruce] is the catalyst of the team,” Agard said. “Her passion and commitment to winning can’t be measured.”
Rollman stayed strong and held off a flurry of IUP chances, as the Crimson Hawks had numerous opportunites to win the game in regulation.
In the extra period, IUP dominated and came away with two good attempts on goal.
The Crimson Hawks finally broke through 5:14 into overtime when Edwards netted her goal.
McGowan was quick to identify one of the keys to IUP’s comeback win.
“Heart,” McGowan said. “This is definitely something every single player on this team has. We could have given up on our season a while ago, but every game, we fight until the end.”
For the second game in a row, IUP dominated the stats sheet, as they took 22 shots and limited Mansfield to just four.
IUP also held a 15-3 advantage in penalty corners, the third straight game that IUP took double-digit penalty corners while also limiting their opponent to single digits in the category.
IUP has averaged over 16 penalty corners the last three games but have only scored eight total goals in those three games.
Execution on penalty corners has been a point of interest for the team all season.
“Execution is extremely crucial,” McGowan said. “Corners are practically a free shot on cage.
“We create so many opportunities so it’s important we finish on those chances.”
Agard had similar thoughts on IUP’s troubles scoring on the many chances they create.
“We just need to capitalize on our goal-scoring opportunities,” Agard said.
The Crimson Hawks sit perched five games below .500 with five games remaining, including four straight home games to end the regular season with matchups against Bellarmine, East Stroudsburg University, Bloomsburg University and Millersville University.
“No one wants this season to end, especially our seniors,” McGowan said.
IUP continues on the road this week when they take on Slippery Rock University Friday.
IUP will look to spoil The Rock’s homecoming and sweep the season series. The Crimson Hawks, now 4-9, beat Slippery Rock 3-2 Oct. 2.
To pull off another road victory, IUP will need to convert more chances and execute their game plan, according to Agard.
For McGowan, she and her team have a few small things that need remedied in future games.
“I think everyone needs to play more offensive-minded, not just myself,” McGowan said. “For some reason, we love to come back from behind, which is definitely something we must fix.”