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New Paltz and Cortland to play for SUNYAC field hockey championship

New Paltz and Cortland to play for SUNYAC field hockey championship

For the third time in the past four seasons, Cortland (13 - 5) and New Paltz (11-7) will face off for another State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) field hockey title. Last season, the Red Dragons overcame the Hawks in the championship match, 5-0. New Paltz will host Cortland in New Paltz, 1 p.m. on Saturday.

In the semifinal game Wednesday, Cortland senior Jess Gibaldi (Westbury/W.T. Clarke) scored with 30.7 seconds remaining in the second overtime period to lift third-seeded Cortland past second-seeded Oneonta, 3-2. Cortland will seek its 16th conference title Saturday.

During New Paltz's semi-final match against Geneseo, Shannon Bernhardt (Massapequa) made what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the 65th minute to overcome the Knights. New Paltz will look for its 5th conference title when the team hosts Cortland this weekend.

MORE DETAILS - Oneonta vs. Cortland 

Oneonta (10-9) forced overtime with just 1:36 left in regulation when Colleen Geyer (Clarkstown South/West Nyak) blasted home a shot off a penalty corner feed from Grace Bilow (Webster Thomas/Webster)

The teams played a scoreless 10-minute, 7-versus-7 overtime period, and were almost through the second one when Gibaldi scored her second goal of the game and team-high 19th of the season. Molly Quinlan (Fayetteville/Fayetteville-Manlius) sent a pass upfield to Jessica Welsh (Hamilton) to set up a 2-on-1 break. Welsh found Gibaldi wide open about 10 yards in front of the goal. Gibaldi initially had trouble controlling the ball, and Oneonta goalie Danell Jones (Whitney Point/Whitney Point) came off her mark to briefly break up the play and stop Gibaldi from shooting. Gibaldi, however, recovered and knocked home the winning shot.

Oneonta took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute when Allyson Wells (Niskayuna) dribbled past a defender and scored on a reverse-stick shot. Cortland tied the game about 10 minutes later. The guests earned four straight penalty corners, and on the last of those Shannon McGuiness (Carle Place) received a ball toward the right side and centered a pass for Gibaldi to set up the tying goal.

Cortland took a 2-1 lead in the 31st minute on another penalty corner situation. McGuinness again picked up an assist as she fed Hannah Burchell (Whitney Point), whose blast from the left side ricocheted off the left post and went in.

Cortland outshot Oneonta, 25-15, but the hosts held a slight 11-10 advantage in penalty corners. Cortland goalie Kailynne Reinoehl (Lititz, PA/Warwick) made 10 saves, including one with 1:21 left in the second overtime during a penalty corner situation. Jones finished with 13 saves for Oneonta. Two of those came in overtime, including a denial on a hard blast by Welsh with 4:17 left.

MORE DETAILS - New Paltz vs. Geneseo

As timed slowly ticked off the game clock nearing zero, New Paltz field hockey team tightly held on to a one-goal advantage, but Geneseo earned one last corner to give themselves a chance to send the game into overtime. The Knights had scored twice on corners earlier in the game, but Hawks freshman goalie Ryan Dowling wasn't about to let the same play get past her again. Dowling came out, got her glove up on the lifted shot and cleared the ball away to solidify a 3-2 victory Wednesday for New Paltz, pushing her team to its sixth SUNYAC championship in seven years.

Dowling put up a stand-out performance, finishing with 16 saves in the outing. Geneseo found more chances on their attacking end, but New Paltz was more efficient with its opportunities on offense to compliment Dowling and the defensive effort.

Julia Kim gave the Knights the opening lead midway through the first half, scoring off a corner by Lydia Volpe with Jordan Penkitis picking up the assist on the play.

New Paltz answered less than five minutes later. Morgan Gunter intercepted a pass from inside the circle and put a shot on Geneseo goalie Natalie Chojnacki, who made the stop. Carly Croteau hustled in for a put-back attempt, but again Chojnacki came up with the save. Croteau kept with the play, found her own rebound and lifted her shot in the back of the cage to tie up the score.

The Hawks then added another before halftime, earning a corner with three minutes left before the break. Samantha Ackerman took the corner for New Paltz, getting the ball to Ascencao who played it to Shannon Bernhardt. Bernhardt took a touch then laid it off to Ascencao again who ripped a shot from the top of the circle. Ackerman, waiting patiently in front of the left post tracked the shot and got a tip on the attempt, directing the ball into the goal for the score.

The Knights continued to press offensively and earned 15 shots and eight corners in the second half alone. They capitalized another of their corners with about 14 minutes remaining in regulation. Volpe again played a ball out and found Penkitis who pushed a pass over to Kim. Kim then fired a shot into the cage to knot up the score at two.

But, New Paltz kept fighting and didn't get discouraged with another stalemate, eventually re-taking the lead. Croteau worked hard in the offensive third, battling with Geneseo defenders to keep the ball on the Hawks' offensive end. She fought to win the ball and poke a pass in front of the cage where Berhnardt waited to knock in the go-ahead score.

From there, the Hawks defended for the final minutes to keep the one goal advantage. The Knights earned three corners in the last four-minute stretch, but New Paltz hung on. Kim had one final attempt at goal, but Dowling read the play and made a glove save on the shot to cement the victory.

Geneseo held the advantage in shots (25-13), shots on goal (19-11) and corners (13-7), but couldn't get past New Paltz's defense. Along with 16 saves for Dowling, freshman Kayla Ahern also came up with a defensive save midway through the second half off a Volpe corner.

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