Tigers Beat Robert Morris In Thrilling Fashion
Stockton Calif. – The Pacific Tigers Field Hockey team needed penalty strokes, but downed Robert Morris 3-2 Sunday, October 2, at Brookside Field. The winning stroke came from the stick of Maggie Grindatti in the sudden death round of penalty strokes.
The Tigers were first to strike when senior Amanda Spellman knocked in her third goal of the season giving Pacific a 1-0 advantage. On the goal, Spellman gained control a blocked shot from Emily Trudeau and put the ball to the back left corner of the cage.
However, Robert Morris looked for a quick answer when a nice lead pass put Jamie Hartley one-on-one with goalkeeper Ashlee Schlesier. Schlesier attacked the approaching forward, and made an amazing diving save to leave the Tigers up 1-0.
The Tigers were not done scoring in the first half. A great individual effort from sophomore Melissa Maultsby gave Pacific a 2-0 lead. Maultsby intercepted a cross pass just outside of the circle, beat a defender, and put the ball through the keeper's pads. It was the third goal of the season for the forward from Fallbrook, Calif. But, the win would not come so simple for the Tigers on the afternoon. Robert Morris fired back with two goals from Chantele Crow and Taleah Scott tying the score at 2-2 setting the stage for overtime.
The first overtime was a battle from the beginning with both teams firing away on each other's goalies. The Tiger defense turned away three shots, while the Colonials keeper, Erin McKenzie made four saves. The game came closest to its end with just over two minutes left in the first overtime. The Tigers were rewarded a penalty shot in the circle and called upon Maggie Grindatti off the bench. But, the sophomore from Saco, Maine ripped a firm shot that struck the left post and deflected wide.
The second overtime featured the Pacific offense ripping five shots, and again with just minutes remaining it looked as if the Tigers would end the contest victorious. After two penalty corners the Pacific offense ripped five consecutive shots, but were turned away by a battling Robert Morris defense.
After Ashlee Schlesier made thirteen saves in 90 minutes of play, the nation's seventh ranked goalie in saves per game was placed with the game in her hands heading to penalty strokes.
The Tigers missed their first attempt after the keeper blocked Maggie Grindatti's shot, but after a miss from Robert Morris, sophomore Paige Counsman beat the Colonials keeper giving Pacific a 1-0 advantage in penalty strokes. However, Robert Morris answered with two straight goals, putting Amanda Spellman in a must make situation. The senior ripped a shot that rattled the back of the cage tying strokes at 2-2. Robert Morris had one opportunity to close the contest, but Ashlee Schlesier stood strong making a great save to push the game to sudden-death penalty strokes.
The Colonials were the first to shoot, ripping a shot to the right of Schlesier. The keeper, who has been great all season for the Tigers, dove to the right extending her stick, and met the ball sending it wide of the cage. Schlesier said of the save, "sudden-death is about setting the tone, and I was able to do that with the first save. I followed the ball well and was able to get a stick on it."
Head Coach Linda MacDonald was then forced with the decision of who to send for the potential game-winning score. After being turned away on two previous penalty strokes Maggie Grindatti, once again, had the chance to play hero. She lined up the shot, ripped it to the post she hit earlier in the game, but this time it caught the back of the cage, giving the Tigers a 3-2 victory. MacDonald never doubted Grindatti saying, "Maggie is a player that will come through for the team, and we knew she would finish it."
Grindatti was confident after the two misses saying, "coach called on me, and I had to do this for the team and myself." She added, "with the stroke being my third, the keeper knew where I was going, but I knew with my strength I could power it through and it led to the game-winner."
MacDonald was happy with her team's effort in the overtime saying, "we worked on overtimes this week in practice, and the extra periods taught them to stay composed today." She added, "A lot of different people stepped up and it is nice to have such depth to our bench."
The Tigers look to use the momentum of the thrilling win as they leave for three games in Virginia to take on Longwood, Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth Oct. 6, 8, and 9, respectively.