EASTON, Pa. - Deanna DiCroce scored a pair of goals, including the game-winnner in overtime, to lift Lafayette to the Patriot League Field Hockey Championship with a 2-1 win over American on Saturday at Rappolt Field.
The top-seed Leopards win their second consecutive Patriot League title, and League-best ninth overall. Lafayette, ranked No. 12 in the nation, moves on to the NCAA Play-In game against No. 2 Princeton on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Columbia University.
Lafayette wins its 15th consecutive game overall, and improves to 17-1 on the season. Second-seed American sees its season come to an end with a 10-10 record as the Eagles fell in the championship game for the first time after winning eight straight titles from 2003-10.
The Leopards had to rally, as American scored the only goal of the first half off a penalty corner with time expired. Gina Hofmann scored the marker off assists from Julie Fosseprez and Kati Rothenhoefer to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead at the half.
DiCroce got Lafayette even midway through the second half, as she got the ball in front of the net and went five hole to tie the game at 1-1 in the 52nd minute.It stayed that way for the remainder of regulation as the contest became the first Patriot League Field Hockey Championship to go to overtime since the inaugural League Tournament in 1994.
After a big save by Lafayette's Jessica Deutsch early in the overtime period, DiCroce earned a penalty stroke at the 83:18 mark. The senior and two-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year buried the shot to send the Leopards to the Patriot League title.
Lafayette held the statistical advantage in the game, with an 11-3 edge in shots and 11-2 margin in penalty corners. DiCroce had two of the Leopards' five shots and finished the Patriot League Tournament with three goals and an assist.
Ashley Dalisera helped keep the Eagles close with four saves. Hofmann's goal was the second in the Patriot League Tournament for the Defensive Player of the Year.
Following the game, DiCroce was named the Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player. She has 16 points in the past two League Tournaments while leading the Leopards to the consecutive Patriot League titles.
DiCroce was joined on the Patriot League All-Tournament Team by fellow Leopards Haley Keenan, Emily Valeo and Brittany Blass, American's Hofmann, Shelly Montgomery and Jaclyn Anspach, Bucknell's Kelsey Mucelli and Rachel Misko and Colgate's Amanda DiDomizio and Kelsey Jensen.
The Leopards became the first team in Patriot League history to win both of their tournament games in overtime. Lafayette advanced to the title contest with a 4-3 win in the extra session against fourth-seed Colgate in Friday's semifinals. American moved on to the title game with a 4-0 win over third-seed Bucknell on Friday.