Crockett Nets Game-Winner at the Buzzer as Wheaton College Strikes Down Connecticut College 7-6
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The third contest of the 2011 Women's Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Eastern Championship came down to the wire between Wheaton College and Connecticut College as the Thunder's Heather Crockett (Jr., San Mateo, Calif.) fired the game-winning goal with time expiring to net a 7-6 victory.
Crockett lead all scorers with five goals to unanimously earn honors as the Player of the Game in a match that was anything but easy.
The Camels got over the hump by scoring first thanks to the arm of Katie Mullaley (Jr., Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy). The goal came late in the opening quarter and was quickly matched with 1:09 remaining when Wheaton's Crockett ripped a shot from six-meters into the back of the net.
The second quarter action was similar to the first as Connecticut's Megan Wright (So., Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa) netted the team's second goal of the game with 6:15 remaining. Wheaton quickly responded off a direct shot from center cage by Linley Sullivan (So., Poway, Ca./Poway) as the squads took the game into halftime tied at 2-2.
The start of the second half was the first opportunity for the Thunder to take a lead thanks to the aggressive play of Crockett who scored her second goal of the game on another direct shot following a foul. This time it was the Camels who had to respond by tying the game for the third time of the match at 5:25 as Mullaley netted her second marker.
It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter when the game would be tied again since Wheaton appeared to take control of the match. Crockett continued to find her offensive grove scoring her third and fourth goals to take a 5-3 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the third period.
Wright tried to answer for Connecticut by netting her second of the game with 53 seconds remaining in the third, but once again it was Wheaton's response with Sullivan's goal that gave her team a 6-4 lead and the impression the Thunder would not be denied their trip to the semi-final match.
The Camels were not willing to go quietly into the night as Wright started the scoring in the fourth and pulled Connecticut within one at the 5:21 mark. That goal boasted the energy of the team and the crowd as the momentum of the game started shifting. Wright ripped her fourth goal of the game into the twine to pull the teams at 6-6 with 4:31 remaining on the game clock.
Although both teams were able to stymy the other's offense, both teams had multiple opportunities to take the lead as Connecticut head coach JJ Addison and Wheaton head man Jon Lederhouse took full advantage of their remaining timeouts within the last :26 seconds of regulation.
With an overtime looming in the future, Wheaton took their final time out to set up a last ditch effort with five seconds left in regulation.
Needing a last second miracle to end the contest in regulation, the Thunder went to Crockett for the final shot of the game. The decision was clutch as Crockett's shot rolled off her fingertips and found its way it the back of the net right before the final horn sound.
Wheaton's victory secured a spot in the first of two semi-final games. They will face the defending champions from Grove City College at 4:30 p.m. later this afternoon.
Connecticut will face Utica College at 3:15 p.m. as the winner of the game will advance to the tournament's fifth place contest at 10:25 a.m. on Saturday, April 30.
Wheaton Goals: Heather Crockett (5); Linley Sullivan (2)
Connecticut Goals: Megan Wright (4); Katie Mullaley (2)
Saves: Wheaton - Karalee Angus (8) ; Connecticut - Pam Lovejoy (9)
Exclusions: Wheaton - 6; Connecticut - 3
Advantage Opportunities: Wheaton - 0-for-3 ; Connecticut - 2-for-6
Sprints: Wheaton - 4-for-4 ; Connecticut - 0-for-4
Officials: Andy Mattson, Ed Prystalski