Spark Leads Late No. 4 TCNJ Rally to Edge No. 7 Amherst

CORTLAND, N.Y. - Seventh-ranked Amherst was on its way to upsetting #4 TCNJ, but the Jeffs let a 7-4 lead slip away in the waning moments of regulation, dropping a heartbreaking 8-7 decision to the Lions.

TCNJ's Alex Spark '13 netted four of her game-high five goals in the final 7:04, including the go-ahead score with just 4.6 left. Jen Garavente '12 added a pair of goals, while Trenna Hill '13 finished with a goal and an assist.

Alex Philie '14 (East Sandwich, Mass.) paced the Amherst attack, finding the back of the Lion net on three of her four shots, while Marta Randall '13 (Monkton, Md.) netted a pair of tallies.

Lions' netminder Kelsey Zinck '14 made three saves en route to her 16th victory, while senior counterpart Lamia Harik (Rye Brook, N.Y.) made nine stops in the loss.

Down 1-0 after a Garavente goal just 5:17 after the opening whistle, Philie buried consecutive scores just 2:09 apart to give the Jeffs their first lead of the afternoon. Tied at 3-3 after a Spark's first goal, Philie made sure Amherst closed the half out strong, tallying her third score of the frame at the 6:31 mark to give the Jeffs a 4-3 lead at the intermission.

Hoping to set the tone coming out of the break, Randall notched her 44th and 45th scores of the season within the first 10 minutes of the restart to extend the Amherst lead to 6-3. Garavente momentarily stemmed the Jeff tide with a goal just 3:10 after Randall's last tally, but Hillary Densen '13 (Summit, N.J.) came right back with a marker of her own to up the Purple & White's margin to 7-4.

From there, Spark took over, scoring the first of four late goals with 7:04 on the clock. Pulling the Lions within one on a successful free-position less than three minutes later, she tied the game at 2:06 before punching TCNJ's ticket to the regional finals with the game winner.

With Saturday's loss, Amherst finishes with a 13-5 overall record. Going 7-3 in arguably the nation's toughest conference, the Jeffs notched the program's highest win total since 2008 - the last time the squad earned a berth into the NCAA Championship.

Today's game also marks the final appearance of the Class of 2012. Together, Harik, Meredith LaRose (Cranford, N.J.), Allie Horwitz (Woodbridge, Conn.), Claire Bennett (Westfield, N.J.) and Meaghan Tigh (Garden City, N.Y.) have posted a 39-24 overall mark with four-consecutive berths into the NESCAC Championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance this season.


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