No. 6 Gettysburg Tops No. 7 F&M in the Centennial Title Game

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Three months of hard work paid off on Sunday as sixth-ranked Gettysburg College secured its third consecutive Centennial Conference title by defeating seventh-ranked Franklin & Marshall College 9-5 at Clark Field on Sunday.

Gettysburg (16-2) clinched its league-best ninth conference crown and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“This team has put everything into the conference championships and I'm really proud of this group,” said senior captain Kelsey Markiewicz, who tallied one goal in the game. “We're all in it for each other and we've put a lot of work into it. I'm happy to see everyone feeling the benefits of all the hard work they've put in.”

Junior Mandy Buell (Westminster, Md./Winters Mill) was named CC Tournament Most Valuable Player after tallying two goals in the title game and six in two playoff games. Junior Bridget Kenny (Gladstone, N.J./Bernards) and senior Bailey Beardsley (Blue Ridge Summit, Pa./Francis Scott Key (Md.)) each scored a pair of goals, while freshman goalie Shannon Keeler (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) tallied 10 saves.

Facing Franklin & Marshall (15-5) for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons in the conference finals, the Bullets came out with a purpose, chasing down loose balls and keeping the Diplomats off the scoreboard for the opening 10 minutes. The hosts lit the lamp at 21:05 as Kenny converted a pass from senior Katie Blumenthal (Malvern, Pa./Academy of Notre Dame).

Just nine seconds later, a draw control win by Kenny turned into a goal as sophomore Maggie Connolly (Winchester, Mass./Winchester) scored following a feed by Blumenthal to make it 2-0.

Mary Mitchell put the Diplomats on the board at 19:44. After exchanging turnovers, Markiewicz made the most of a free-position shot by scoring her only goal at 17:23. Keeler helped initiate each of Gettysburg's next two goals, making saves on the defensive end. Buell and Blumenthal each found the back of the net to make it 5-1 with 13:13 on the clock in the first half.

Caroline Krohn helped bring F&M back into the fray with back-to-back tallies. Mitchell handed out both assists on the plays with the second goal pulling the visitors to 5-3 on the board at 10:21.

Mitchell tried to cut the deficit with a free-position shot, but Keeler was up to the task again and turned away the attempt. Diplomat goalie Kelsey Hoffman stopped a pair of Gettysburg shots to keep the deficit at two.

The Bullets held the ball for the final four minutes of the opening period. With time winding down, Kenny was fouled inside the arc and was awarded a free-position attempt with two seconds left. Poised on the right of the fan, the junior fired a lefty shot to beat the buzzer and give Gettysburg a 6-3 lead at the break.

The Bullets seemed in control for most of the final period, beginning with a goal by Beardsley at 26:49. Keeler added two more saves before the Diplomats picked up a goal at 18:31.

Gettysburg held Franklin & Marshall off the board for the next 16 minutes. The offense tacked on two goals with Beardsley and Buell each posting their second tallies to make it 9-4 with less than 15 minutes to play.

The Bullets turned in a series of long possessions to run time off the clock. The Diplomats were unable to score until Mitchell found the net at 2:05. After winning the final draw control, Franklin & Marshall turned the ball over and Gettysburg maintained possession down the final horn.

“The game plan all along was to go out hard the first 15 minutes and play the best we could,” said Markiewicz. “We really wanted to push it and see how the defenders were playing, what the goalkeeper was doing, what the match-ups were and really execute. Our strategy was to maintain possession of the ball for as long as we could when we had the lead.”

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