COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College field hockey team is headed back to the Final Four. The Bears added another chapter to their dominant NCAA Tournament run, outshooting No. 20 Rochester by a 28-2 margin on the way to a 5-0 victory in this afternoon's regional final at Eleanor Frost Snell Alumni Field. Senior midfielder Megan Keenan (Sinking Spring, Pa./Wilson) scored twice and junior forward Amber Steigerwalt (Warrington, Pa./Central Bucks South) added a goal and an assist for the fourth-ranked Bears, who advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2011. Ursinus now braces for a titanic showdown with top-ranked and undefeated Bowdoin, a 3-0 winner over Wellesley, on Saturday, November 21, at 11:00 a.m. on the campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.
A day before, Ursinus (19-3) jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Stevens less than seven minutes into the contest. Rochester (18-6) proved a stiffer challenge, but one for which the Bears were certainly prepared. Like yesterday, Steigerwalt staked the home side to a 1-0 lead, this time collecting a rebound off a shot by senior midfielder Kelsey Reed (Lancaster, Pa./Conestoga Valley) in front of the goal and finding the back of the net at 12:49.
The Bears doubled their pleasure in the 21st minute, when Keenan and senior midfielder Stephanie Cooper (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) combined on a picture-perfect give-and-go in the circle, Keenan burying a shot from the center to double up the besieged Yellowjackets.
That initiated a vintage Ursinus barrage. Less than four minutes later, senior forward Devin Brakel (West Windsor, N.J./West Windsor-Plainsboro North) sent a pass across the goalmouth to a wide-open Steigerwalt, who calmly tipped it in at the left post to make it 3-0. The Bears stretched out the lead once more late in the half, converting a set piece on another penalty corner. Senior forward Danielle Stong (Gilbertsville, Pa./Boyertown Area) started it with a pass to Reed at the top of the circle. Reed stopped it and quickly dished to Keenan, who powered home a laser from just inside the circle at the 30:21 mark.
Junior defender Colleen Leahy (Centereach, N.Y./Centereach) scored the lone goal of the second half, deflecting a feed from Reed into the top of the net in the 53rd minute (52:06) for her third marker of the Tournament, matching her total from the season's previous 20 contests.
For the second time in as many days, the Ursinus back line proved nearly impenetrable. Rochester got off its only two shots of the game in the 55th minute, but senior Michelle Relin saw both of her efforts blocked as the Yellowjackets' lone scoring chance fell by the wayside.
Senior Tara Lamberti was terrific between the pipes for Rochester, matching a career high with 17 saves. Senior counterpart Danielle DeSpirito (Mountaintop, Pa./Crestwood) was not forced to make a stop for the second straight game.
With the trio of juniors Aliki Torrence (Reading, Pa./Exeter) and Ann Kopera (Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy) and freshman Bridget Sherry (Swarthmore, Pa./Strath Haven) leading the way, Ursinus allowed a mere three shots over its two regional tilts, while the Bears racked up 61 on the other end. Ursinus has posted three consecutive shutouts dating back to a 1-0 triumph over Franklin & Marshall in the Centennial Conference final, and has allowed just one goal in its past six games. The Bears outscored their regional opponents, 15-0, for the weekend.
Now a different challenge awaits. The Bears now must contend with No. 1 Bowdoin, who will travel to Virginia with a 20-0 record in tow. The Polar Bears have reached the NCAA championship game each of the last two years, winning the title in 2013 before giving way to TCNJ last season. Ursinus and Bowdoin last met in the NCAA semifinals seven years ago, with the Polar Bears prevailing, 3-2, on the way to their second of four national championships.