Palardy, Zakrzewski power IUP to PSAC semifinals with OT win

It may not have been exactly how they drew it up, but the Indiana University of Pennsylvania women’s lacrosse team got the result they were looking for.

IUP combined a strong defensive effort and two overtime goals by Michelle Zakrzewski (senior, exercise science) to defeat an upset-minded Bloomsburg University in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon at George P. Miller Stadium.

“Today we showed that we were ready for it,” head coach Mindy Richmond said. “We’ve had some real ups and downs this season with some really close games.”

Down 10-9 with one minute remaining on the clock, Drew Hayden (sophomore, speech pathology) showed that she’s more than just a goal-scoring assassin when she caused a turnover that gave the Crimson Hawks possession with a chance to tie the game.

Carissa Smith’s (freshman, business) shot was wide, and Bloomsburg gained control again.

A penalty on Hayden, which drew a yellow card, stopped the clock with 28 seconds left but with one of IUP’s best players sidelined. The Huskies then turned the ball over, and Zakrzewski picked up the ground ball.

Zakrzewski, with time winding down, found Brittney Palardy (sophomore, athletic training), who fired a shot into the Bloomsburg net to tie the game at 10 with 4.1 seconds to play. The goal was Palardy’s fourth of the day.

Richmond described the goal as “pure excitement.”

“What a great tying-goal score by Britt,” Richmond said. “She went hard and pulled it out, and she wanted it. I’m just really proud of them.”

Palardy finished the regular season with the second-most goals, behind leading scorer Hayden, who was limited to just one goal Tuesday.

Palardy has been on a scoring streak of late with 26 goals in the last six games.

“She’s really stepped up this season,” Richmond said. “She’s just a sophomore, and she’s taken a lot of games into her own hands, and she plays hard all the time.”

With a steady rain falling, Bloomsburg drew first blood in the six-minute overtime period.

After a Husky shot was saved, IUP goalkeeper Katie Davis (senior, interior design) attempted to clear the ball up the field.

However, Ashley Bossert dispossessed Davis, who was behind the net, picked up the ball and scored the empty-net goal with 17.6 seconds remaining in the first half of overtime.

After switching ends, IUP tied the score yet again when Zakrzewski scored. Zakrzewski capped her day by scoring the game-winning goal with 39 seconds remaining to secure the 12-11 victory.

After the game, Richmond was relieved that her team was able to pull out the victory.

“[I’m] very, very proud,” Richmond said. “I’m just so proud of them, and they’ve come a long way, and they’re really stepping up to the plate now when it matters most.”

A turning point late in the second half was when Bloomsburg called a timeout with just under two minutes remaining in the game with possession of the ball.

Just 53 seconds later, Hayden’s defense caused the turnover that eventually allowed IUP to tie the game at 10.

During that timeout, Richmond had a simple message to her team to finish out the game.

“It really was about getting the girls to realize that the game wasn’t over and that we could get back in it,” Richmond said. “Having 10 seniors, I said ‘Don’t let this be your last game.’ And they really came out and played tough.”

With the victory, the Crimson Hawks are set to face the second-seeded Mercyhurst Lakers in Friday’s semifinal. Mercyhurst used a 5-1 run in the last 10 minutes to defeat the Crimson Hawks 15-13 on April 15.

“We’ve got a lot of film to review and a lot of game planning, and we’re prepared to come out and beat them next time around,” Richmond said.

The winner of the IUP and Mercyhurst semifinal meets the winner of the Lock Haven University and West Chester University game.

Lock Haven, the top overall seed, is the host.

IUP and Mercyhurst take the field for a 4 p.m. start.