SWARTHMORE, Pa. – A see-saw battle finally ended with Bryn Bissey's goal in the 66th minute sending 16th-ranked Haverford College to a 4-3 Centennial Conference victory over host Swarthmore College in Division III field hockey action Saturday afternoon.
Haverford (13-4, 8-2 CC) had already clinched at least a tie for second place in the league standings but Saturday's win over the Garnet (9-8, 4-6) in the regular-season finale allows the Fords to claim the runner-up spot in the standings all by themselves, a first for the program.
By virtue of finishing in second, Haverford earns a bye in the opening round of the 2012 Centennial playoffs which begin Wednesday with a match-up between fifth-place Washington College at fourth-place Ursinus College. The winner of that game heads to Lancaster, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 3 to take on host and top seed Franklin & Marshall College in one semifinal, with the Fords and third-seed Gettysburg College playing in the other semifinal. The tournament final follows on Sunday, Nov. 4 in Lancaster.
Saturday's victory at Swarthmore was a back-and-forth affair on the scoreboard, though the Fords owned a statistical advantage on paper out shooting the Garnet 26-11 and gaining 20 penalty corner opportunities while limiting their hosts to 12.
Swarthmore's Nia Jones put the home team on the board first with a goal in the ninth minute of the opening half. Three minutes later, Haverford's Catherine Aronowitz was able to knot things at 1-1 with her seventh of the year, this one coming off a penalty insertion from Bridget Gibbons who garnered the assist on the goal.
The two teams' second goal each came less than a minute apart as Megan Holt's goal, her sixth of the year, at the 15:16 mark was answered by Swarthmore's Alexis Zavez at 15:56.
That 2-2 score was on the scoreboard to open the second half of action but Mary Hobbs didn't allow it to stay that way for long. The Haverford senior, who had assisted on Holt's first-half tally, notched her 12th goal of the year 93 seconds into the period which allowed the Fords to enjoy a lead for the second time on the day. Swarthmore found the equlizer in the 51st minute, however, to put the game back at square one.
Finally, in the 66th minute, an Aronowitz pass found an unmarked Bissey in front of the goal where the Haverford junior was able to lift a shot high into the cage over Swarthmore goalie Gabriella Capone to close out the scoring and send the Fords to victory. The marker was Bissey's ninth of the season.
The win also added a point to the Haverford total in the Hood Trophy standings, an annual rivalry contest between the Fords and Swarthmore last won by the Garnet in 1991. Haverford's men's and women's cross country teams each finished ahead of Swarthmore earlier in the day at the Centennial championship race to provide the first points of the year in the competition, with field hockey's win pushing the advantage to 3-0.
Field hockey now heads into the Centennial playoffs for the fourth straight year and into the semifinals for the fourth time in a row, a feat never before accomplished in the program's history.
The game against the Bullets will be a rematch of a 2-1 overtime win by the Fords on Gettysburg's home turf in late September. Hobbs ended that game with a goal 77 seconds into the extra period.