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Elpers’ OT goal sends Colonels on to Sweet 16

Elpers’ OT goal sends Colonels on to Sweet 16

DANVILLE, Ky. – Centre field hockey is moving on to the NCAA "Sweet 16" after a first round overtime win against visiting Washington & Jefferson, 3-2, Wednesday afternoon at South Campus Field.

In the program's first-ever home NCAA Tournament game, the Colonels (16-4) escaped an up-and-down game against the Presidents (13-5) with a golden goal from sophomore Savannah Elpers (Louisville, Ky.).

The visiting side got on the board first in Wednesday's matchup, as Alana Boyd skated through a handful of Centre defenders and netted her eighth goal of the season in the 12th minute.

Centre was held in check for much of the first half, getting off just one shot in the opening 25 minutes, but eventually leading scorer Brooklyn Bell (Louisville, Ky.) broke through.

The senior forward scored on an assist from Elpers in the 26th minute to level the game at 1-1 before the half.

After totaling just two shots in the first frame, the Colonels came out attacking early in the second half.

Centre eventually gained a penalty stroke with a chance to take the lead. The Presidents' Karlie Baran denied senior Mary Andrews (St. Louis, Mo.), however, keeping the game tied at 1-1.

In the 45th minute, W&J's Claire Shaak put the visitors up by a goal yet again off an assist from Gabby Karr.

But Centre's resilience prevailed, and just two minutes later the duo of Elpers and Bell connected once again. Elpers provided her team-leading 11th assist on Bell's 22nd goal of the campaign – a total that is already a Southern Athletic Association (SAA) record that continues to grow.

Despite a handful of chances for both sides in the closing minutes, the game remained a 2-2 until the final whistle.

Typically a seven-on-seven affair, Wednesday's overtime began as a six-on-six matchup with each side serving yellow cards.

Centre was able to get a man-up advantage once senior Hayley Barker (Louisville, Ky.) reentered, however, which only helped the Colonels control much of the overtime possession.

Elpers' score, her sixth of the season, came a little more than three minutes into the extra period and just eight seconds before W&J was to be at full strength.

Bell's two goals marked her seventh multi-goal game of the season and fourth in the last five matches. She has now scored at least one goal in each of the previous eight games.

Elpers' four total points equaled a career high for the sophomore.

Sophomore Kristen Mulcahy (Cedarburg, Wis.) finished with three saves for the Colonels, and the defensive unit has still yet to allow more than two goals to any opponent this season.

Centre advances to the NCAA "Sweet 16" this Saturday and will meet 12th-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight on the Colonels' bracket will be hosted by The College of New Jersey in Trenton, N.J.