EASTON, Pa. - Deanna DiCroce's two goals, including a penalty stroke in overtime gave Lafayette a 2-1 victory over American and its ninth overall and second consecutive Patriot League Field Hockey Championship on Saturday afternoon at Rappolt Field.
No. 12 Lafayette (17-1) travels to New York, N.Y. on Tuesday to face No. 2 Princeton (16-1) in a play-in game for an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. First stroke from Columbia's Baker Athletics Complex is scheduled for 1 p.m.
With a minute to play in the seven-on-seven overtime, Lafayette senior Emily Valeo carried the ball into the American circle and was taken down to draw the penalty stroke. DiCroce lifted the stroke into the upper left corner of the cage past the outstretched arms of American goalie Ashley Dalisera.
"When Deanna scored that goal and we knew that we won the game, words can even describe the feeling," Valeo said. "The amount of work that this team has put in since last season is just unbelievable and I really wouldn't want to share this with any other team and group of girls."
A corner at the end of the first half gave American a 1-0 lead going into intermission. Gina Hoffman positioned herself in front of the Leopards' cage and deflected in the ball that was inserted by Katie Rothenhoffer and put in front by Julie Fosseprez.
The score came on American's second corner of the opening half and the Eagles successfully defended four of Lafayette's corner plays in the first stanza.
Fifteen minutes into the second half and still trailing, 1-0, Lafayette earned another corner attempt. DiCroce, the Patriot League's Offensive Player of the Year, inserted the corner to Valeo, who set up Jenna Seybert's shot from the top of the circle. Haley Keenan deflected Seybert's rip off the post to Delisera's left.
With less than 19 minutes to play, Lafayette finally cracked the American defense to even the score at 1-1. DiCroce made her way alone in front of the cage and slid a shot between Dalisera's legs for her League-leading 17th goal of the year.
Lafayette earned five corners in total in the second half and held American without an attempt or a shot on goal as the game went into overtime.
Early in the overtime, American's Rebecca Treharne had a backhanded shot from just inside the circle, but Lafayette goalie Jessica Deutsch was there to kick it away and keep the game going. Deutsch was aggressive coming out of her cage in overtime, stopping two more American scoring attempts.
"Throughout the day today, I thought we played great," head coach Andrew Griffiths said. "We've been resilient all year and I just thought we played a great game. They got a goal before halftime, which was tough, but we've come back numerous times from being a goal down and I was just really feeling good about the way we were playing. When we're playing as a team, good things happen."
Lafayette outshot American 11-3, including 6-3 on goal, and took 11 corners to Lafayette's two.
Following the game, DiCroce was named the Patriot League Tournament Most-Valuable Player, while also being selected to the All-Tournament Team. Joining DiCroce on the All-Tournament Team was Valeo, Keenan and sophomore Brittany Blass.
Lafayette improved to 3-0 in overtime games this year
The win was Lafayette's second straight overtime victory
Lafayette is now 5-1 in one-goal games
DiCroce's penalty stroke was her first attempt of the season and her fifth game-winner this season
Check back to GoLeopards.com Monday for continuing coverage on Lafayette's Patriot League Championship and preview of Tuesday's NCAA Play-In Game vs. #2 Princeton.
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