LANCASTER, Pa. - Mary Hobbs scored twice for 15th-ranked Haverford College but Bryn Bissey's goal midway through the second half proved to be the game winner as the Fords held off Gettysburg College, 4-3, in the second semifinal of the Centennial Conference 2012 field hockey tournament hosted by top-seed and No. 4 Franklin & Marshall College at Tylus Field on Saturday afternoon.
Th second-seeded Fords (14-4), making their second trip to the final in three years, will square off against F&M (17-1) for the championship Sunday at 1 p.m. The Diplomats downed fourth-seed Ursinus College, 2-0, in the day's opening semifinal.
Bissey scored from close in and to the right (pictured, right) of Gettysburg goalkeeper Megan Feeg, pushing the Haverford lead to 4-1 in the 59th minute. The unassisted tally was Bissey's 10th goal of the year.
Saturday's contest started off with a bang for the No. 3-seed Bullets (12-5) who raced down field in the opening minute and put two shots on goal. The first was saved by Haverford goalie Sydney Hyder but the put back by Hayward Sawers off the rebound gave Gettysburg the early lead just 51 seconds into the game.
Haverford reeled off the next nine shots, finally getting the equalizer late in the 12th minute when Christie Quake converted a penalty stroke at the 11:53 mark.
The Fords maintained pressure in their offensive end but escaped falling behind again by the narrowest of margins as Liz Baron's shot hit the left post of the Haverford goal and deflected out of harms way. Shortly thereafter, Hobbs scored her first of the game with a low strike from the top of the circle at the 30:16 mark, giving the Fords their first lead of the game.
The one-goal advantage held up, barely, through the opening minutes of the second half as Hyder stopped not one, but two penalty stroke chances from Gettysburg within six minutes after coming out of the halftime break.
Hobbs added to the lead with her 14th of the season, receiving a smooth cross from Bridget Gibbons then using a blast from the left of the goal to beat Feeg to the near post in the 47th minute. Bissey's goal gave the Fords a seemingly safe three goal cushion with less than 12 minutes remaining.
Just before Bissey's marker the Bullets appeared to score their second of the game but the goal off a penalty corner shot was disallowed. The Bullets were back on the attack following the Bissey score and finally eventually their second with a goal from Kelly Spieker at 63:51, then pulled within one on Ally Duggan's goal with 1:26 remaining.
Haverford was able to hold possession over the game's final 86 seconds to squelch the Gettysburg rally and sweep the Bullets after taking the regular season game in overtime in late September.
Hyder (13-4) finished with nine saves -- perhaps none bigger than her pair of diving stops on the penalty strokes -- to earn the win between the pipes, while Feeg (12-5) took the loss but registered eight saves. Lexie Mowery added three defensive saves to help Feeg with Duggan adding one as well.
Sunday's contest will be a rematch of an October 6 game at Haverford which the visiting Diplomats won by a 2-0 score. Franklin & Marshall's only loss of the season came in the opening game of the year in a 2-1 defeat at Elizabethtown College.
The loss to the Dips was one of only four on the year which included a narrow 1-0 loss to then-No. 4 Messiah College. Haverford also posted wins over several ranked teams including the season's first two games, downing then-No. 18 Rowan University in the opener than following in the next game with a win over then-No. 16 Lebanon Valley College.
Sunday's championship game will pit the Centennial's scoring leaders against each other as Hobbs took over the top spot on the league's points list with F&M's Kristen Zublin trailing by one point.
Hobbs' two goals Saturday gives her 14 on the year and her 11 assists adds up to a league-leading 39 points. Zublin scored once in Saturday's win over Ursinus to push her conference-best total to 18 goals. Her two assist gives her 38 points on the season.
Haverford will have to solve netminder Avery Koep as the F&M goalie owns a league-best 0.67 goals against average and has made 42 saves. Hyder will need to equal her opponent in the other cage. The senior goalie for Haverford will enter the championship game with a 1.85 goals against average and with 84 saves for the season.
A win over the Dips on their home turf Sunday would give the Fords their first field hockey championship and their first automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Both nationally-ranked Haverford and F&M, regardless of Sunday's result, are certainly being considered for at least an at-large bid into the national tournament.