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The App State Mountaineers (13-4, 6-1 MAC) clinched a share of the MAC regular season title after beating the Ohio Bobcats (6-8, 4-3 MAC) 3-2 in an overtime thriller on Friday. This is the first time the Mountaineers have won a MAC regular season title since joining the MAC in 2017 and the highest finish the team has ever had in the MAC.
Hadley Kuzmicky played hero for the Mountaineers in today’s game as she took a beautiful feed by Lise Boekaar into the circle and redirected the ball past the Bobcat keeper for the sudden death win. Kuzmicky’s goal sealed the Mountaineers’ fourth consecutive overtime win this season and eighth straight win overall.
“Winning the MAC is what we’ve been working toward all season and it’s super rewarding,” Kuzmicky said. “I think it’s a reflection of all our hard work throughout the season and our fight in every game.”
With the win today, head coach Emily Dinsmore has passed Mountaineer legend Jan Watson’s record for wins by an App State first-year head coach with 13. Collectively, the Mountaineers also won their sixth MAC game of the season, breaking the record for most conference wins in a season, that was set last year.
“I’m so proud of the team and their fight today,” Dinsmore said. “We could have gotten down when Ohio scored late, but the girls stepped up to the challenge and stepped confidently into overtime. I couldn’t be happier for the group and the work they have put in this season.”
Action came early and often today at Dr. Jan C. Watson Field at the Brandon & Erica M. Field Hockey Complex as App State got the ball into the circle just 28 seconds into the game, resulting in a shot by Kuzmicky. Kuzmicky’s shot was saved by Lotze, but the resulting scrum led to a penalty stroke for App State.
On the stroke, Bridget Donovan stepped up to face Lotze and scored the game’s first goal, making it seven straight contests that App State has scored first. Donovan has had a strong second half of the season as she has scored three of her four goals in the last eight games.
The Mountaineers would continue their aggressive start on Friday, drawing a corner in the sixth minute. Off the insert, Charlotte Bosma took her first shot of the contest, but had it blocked. App State would fire four first-quarter shots, but only Donovan’s would find the cage in the period.
Late in the first quarter, the Bobcats generated their best chance to score after drawing their first penalty corner of the game with five minutes to play in the first. Off Katelyn Whittle’s insert and Johanna Hildebrandt’s stick-stop, Anouk Plaehn would shoot one past Addie Clark to tie the game at one. Plaehn’s score was her first this season.
Despite outshooting the Bobcats 4-2 in the first, the game would head to the second quarter tied at one.
The Bobcats started the second period strong, generating a successful offensive attack, resulting in a shot from the MAC’s leading goal-scorer Katelyn Whittle that was saved by Clark. The ball wasn’t cleared by Clark, however, and resulted in Ohio’s third penalty corner of the game. Nothing came from the corner as App State’s defense continues to be rock solid on corners.
Offense was hard to come by in the second period, as neither team could formulate a good attacking chance. App State attempted two shots in the second, one by Henriette Stegen and the other by Noa Ginjaume Matas, but none were on target. When the second-quarter horn sounded, the match was knotted at one apiece.
Ohio immediately looked to take the lead as play resumed on Friday, getting the ball into the circle early and testing the Mountaineers’ fifth-year keeper. Katelyn Whittle, who scored five goals against Bellarmine last week, fired three shots on goal within seconds of one another, but Clark stopped each shot and picked up three quick second-half saves.
The Bobcats weren’t done on offense as Whittle’s aggressiveness led to Ohio’s fourth corner attempt of the day. Off Whittle’s insert, Plaehn would take the ball and fire on cage, but Jillian Orcutt was there to knock it away. Orcutt’s defensive save marked App State’s fourth this season, which passes last season’s total of three.
Clark and the defense would be tested again in the 35th minute as Whittle found herself open in the circle. The resulting shot was once again saved by Clark, who had a great third quarter between the posts, saving five in the period.
The Mountaineers would counter Ohio’s strong quarter by taking the lead late in the period thanks to Lise Boekaar’s career-high fourth goal of the year. Boekaar would be the beneficiary of a strong play design, as App State passed the ball between four players on a corner attempt, before Boekaar slapped a shot past Lotze. The sophomore has also turned up her play in the second half of the season as she has scored all four of her goals during App State’s eight-game winning streak.
When the period came to a close, App State had retaken the lead 2-1. Friday’s match was trending toward another close finish in the series.
Coach Dinsmore’s team came out strong in the final period, looking to regain control of the contest and finish strong. The Mountaineers would slap three shots at Lotze within the first five minutes, with Lotze tallying two saves. In the 49th minute, the Mountaineers drew their third penalty corner of the contest, but Lotze saved Ginjaume Matas’ shot off the insert.
Ohio wouldn’t back down with their backs against the wall as they continued to show a good attack in the late stages of the fourth. After App State failed to convert on a corner in the 54th minute, Ohio took the ball straight up the field and drew a corner themselves. The resulting shot by Whittle was saved by Clark, but not cleared, as Ohio drew another corner chance.
This corner chance would prove successful for the Bobcats as Meela Koop sent the ball ringing past the defense to tie the game. Koop’s goal was her fourth this season.
The Mountaineers weren’t going to quit after Koop’s goal and immediately charged into their attacking 25 and drew the first of four Mountaineer corners drawn in the last five minutes. Off Kuzmicky’s insert, both Bosma and Donovan saw shots get saved by Lotze, who saved six fourth-quarter shot attempts.
The last 90 seconds of the contest saw great action for the Mountaineers. App State was able to get into the circle late where Sarah Farrell fired a shot that was tipped in by Kuzmicky. However, the officials would converge and wave off the score, deciding that the initial ball from Farrell went off her foot. As a result, this back-and-forth contest would head to overtime.
In App State’s fourth overtime contest of the year and second consecutive overtime game, Dinsmore’s group came out of the break looking to finish this game off as MAC regular season champs. Action started immediately as Boekaar found a seam and fired a shot that was saved Lotze, giving her nine for the day.
The Mountaineers would turn a great defensive play into the game-winning goal on Friday as Kuzmicky forced a turnover and foul on Ohio on App State’s side of the field. Off the restart, Boekaar took the ball and advanced into the circle where she dished to Kuzmicky for the App State sudden-death winner.
Kuzmicky’s goal sealed App State’s eighth straight win, its sixth straight overtime win, a share of the MAC regular season title and a two-seed in the MAC Tournament that starts next Friday. App State’s share of the MAC title marks the highest finish the Mountaineers have ever recorded as a MAC member.
The Mountaineers will cap off the regular season on Sunday with a bout against the Saint Louis Billikens at Dr. Jan C. Watson Field at the Brandon & Erica M. Adcock Field Hockey Complex. Sunday will also be App State’s senior day where it will honor its two seniors. First touch is slated for 11:30 a.m. and can be streamed on Twitch, YouTube and our Facebook page.