HAVERFORD, Pa. – Saturday afternoon's second semifinal of the day in the Centennial Conference's 2012 field hockey tournament has the look of a game that will be just as exciting as the regular season outing when Haverford College downed host Gettysburg College, 2-1, in overtime on the Bullets' home turf in late September.
The rematch in Lancaster, Pa., will have 15th-ranked and second-seeded Haverford (13-4, 8-2 Centennial) and third-seed Gettysburg (12-4, 7-3) playing for the right to advance into the championship game Sunday afternoon. The Fords/Bullets winner would square off against the victor of Saturday's opening semifinal between fourth-ranked and top seed Franklin & Marshall College (16-1, 10-0) and No. 4-seed Ursinus College (11-7, 6-4).
In September, the Fords trailed host Gettysburg 1-0 at halftime but Haverford's Bryn Bissey was able to notch the tying goal in the 55th minute. Regulation time ended with the score deadlocked at 1-1 after 70 minutes of action, but overtime didn't last long as Haverford's Mary Hobbs netted the game-winner just 77 seconds into the seven-on-seven extra period.
Hobbs, in front of the goal and just inside the left post, received a long feed from the right by Bridget Gibbons and got off one shot that was blocked by a defender but pounded home the rebound to send the Fords to the come-from-behind win.
Despite the low-scoring game at Gettysburg, the Haverford attack has rung up its fair share of goals during the year accumulating 55 for a 3.24 goals per game average, second-highest in the league.
On the flip side, the Fords are allowing only 1.62 goals per game, third-best in the conference providing an average scoring margin of plus 1.34, second only to conference leader F&M.
Gettysburg sits behind the Fords, within conference statistic lists, in scoring average (2.56, eighth in the league), goals against average (1.87, fourth) and scoring margin (+0.94, third).
Hobbs is the leader of the Fords' potent attack with 12 goals, and 35 points, both fourth-highest in the conference. Ten players have scored for the Fords with seven notching at least two goals during the year.
Gettysburg's Liz Baron tops her team in goals (10, seventh in the league) and points (24, 12th). The Bullets have received all of their goals from only eight players but three others besides Baron have scored at least six times during the season causing opposing defenses to not just concentrate on Baron in the attacking end.
Sydney Hyder has put together a solid senior season in goal for Haverford registering a goals against average of 1.77 per game while coming up with 75 saves. Hyder and a strong defensive back line consisting of seniors Christie Quake and Sarah Crist, junior Megan Holt and freshman Allison Martin have enabled the Fords to win not only when the attack is at its best, but in low-scoring game such as the overtime Gettysburg contest. In games decided by one goal, Haverford has posted a 5-1 record this season and the Fords are 3-0 in overtime outings.
The regular season schedule, in particular the non-conference slate, helped steel the Fords for the rigors of the perennially-tough Centennial schedule as well as the conference tournament.
"The team has trained hard all season to be where we are right now," said head coach Jackie Cox. "It is exciting to be the No. 2 seed in such a strong field hockey conference. Every Centennial game was a battle and I believe we have earned our spot."
Hobbs, Quake and Crist are just part of a senior class which has helped propel the team into the playoffs. Gibbons is second on the team in goals (nine), assists (six) and points (24) while midfielder Alyssa Mayo has started every game, 55, since joining the team her sophomore year.
"The senior class has really lead this team to our success this season," says Cox. "They are going to be the ones to ignite the fire in every player to bring what we need to be competitive and successful in the playoffs."
Saturday's trip into the semifinal round is the fourth consecutive season in which the Fords have made it into the semis, a feat unmatched by any team in the program's history. Haverford advanced into the championship game once before, in 2010, and -- though Cox cautions her team to take one game at a time -- hopes to not only find itself in another Sunday contest date, but hoisting a trophy at the end of the day.