No. 2 Red Dragons Drop Semifinal Battle to No. 5 Trinity (CT)

MONTCLAIR, N.J. Senior Liz Bruno (Andover, MA/Brooks) and sophomore Shea Kusiak (Longmeadow, MA) each scored three goals to lead fifth-ranked Trinity to a 7-5 win over second-ranked Cortland Saturday afternoon in the 2012 NCAA Div. III semifinals.

The Red Dragons had a 19-game winning streak snapped and ended their season at 20-2. The Bantams improved to 20-1 and advanced to face Salisbury in the title game Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Five different players scored goals for the Red Dragons. Junior Maria Di Fato (Camillus/West Genesee) registered a goal and an assist, while seniors Lindsay Abbott (South Onondaga/Onondaga Central) and Erin Kollar (East Islip) and juniors Gina Campese (East Syracuse/East Syracuse-Minoa) and Natalie Melaniff (Wantagh) each scored once.

Freshman Marilyn Farrell (Fayetteville/Fayettevville-Manlius) chipped in with an assist. Junior goalie Shauna Hutchinson (Islip Terrace/East Islip) made five saves. Di Fato also recorded a game-high seven caused turnovers.

Bruno also added an assist, junior Megan Leonhard (Summit, NJ/St. George's) tallied a goal and junior Kaitlin Hildebrand (Berwyn, PA/Conestoga) recorded an assist. Junior goalie Olivia Whitney (Danvers, MA/Pingree) made five saves.

The Bantams jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals in the first five minutes of play. Bruno opened the scoring one minute, 18 seconds into the contest, and junior Leonhard scored at 24:19. Di Fato put the Red Dragons on the scoreboard at 22:33 when she cut across the front of the goal and buried a free-position shot into the upper left corner.

Trinity then controlled the ball for six minutes and finished off the possession on Kusiak's goal at 11:02. After Kusiak's score, Cortland repeatedly turned the ball over. The Bantams eventually capatilized and upped their lead to 4-1 on an unassisted goal by Bruno at 7:21. The Red Dragons tallied a huge goal in the closing moments of the first half.

Early in the second half, Hutchinson made two big saves to keep it a 4-2 game. Melaniff then scored on a spin move in traffic at 19:33 to pull Cortland to within 4-3. Bruno answered just over a minute later before Abbott scored a free-position goal with a shot over Whitney's stick at 17:25 and the Bantams led 5-4.

Kusiak bumped the lead back to two goals at 6-4 at 6:17 just seconds after a two-minute man-up chance for Trinity expired. Campese responded with a goal after a spin move just outside of the crease at 5:21 to make it a 6-5 game. After gaining possession on a Cortland turnover with five minutes remaining, Kusiak scored her third goal of the game at 3:19 into an open net as Hutchinson came out to double team the ball.

The Bantams won the ensuing draw control but turned the ball over with just under three minutes remaining. The Red Dragons, down a player due to a yellow card, pushed the ball downfield but a shot by Di Fato hit the side of the net. The teams then traded turnovers inside of two minutes giving possession back to Trinity. The Bantams controlled possession in the closing moments and ran out the clock to seal the win.

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Montclair, N.J. Senior co-captain midfielder Liz Bruno (Andover, Mass.) and sophomore Shea Kusiak (Longmeadow, Mass.) combined for six goals and one assist to lead the Trinity Bantams to a 7-5 victory over the Cortland Red Dragons in the NCAA Division III semifinals this afternoon on Sprague Field at Montclair State.

Trinity, ranked No. 5 in the nation, improves to a best-ever 20-1 and will face the undefeated (22-0) Salisbury University Sea Gulls, which downed Middlebury, 15-7, in the other semifinal today, in the NCAA Finals tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at Montclair State.

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