ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Nearing the end of a second half when Bucknell didn’t have much going offensively, one moment of magic from freshman Alexandra Catanzarite with 3:05 left in regulation was all it took to send the Bison on to the Patriot League Tournament final for the third year in a row. Second-seeded Bucknell got by No. 3 Boston University by the 1-0 margin, and now the Bison will meet top-seeded and tournament host Navy in Sunday’s championship match.
Sophomore goalkeeper Theresa Adu-Attobrah, who came on at the half for injured starter Dani Kaufman, sealed a dramatic victory with a clutch save on a well-struck free kick from Jesse Shreck with 25 seconds left in the match.
Catanzarite’s goal, her third of the season, came on Bucknell’s only shot of the second half. And it was one for the highlight reel. She chipped the ball over a defender’s head to herself, dodged another Terrier, and then placed a left-footed shot inside the near post off the fingertips of a diving Amanda Fay.
Fay had made two tough saves of her own to deny Kendall Ham and Karli Cirovski late in the first half. Those were Bucknell’s two best looks of the opening half, while Kaufman was called upon for five saves at the other end. Boston University finished the night with a 20-7 shot advantage, but they did not put a shot on frame in the second half until Shreck's last-ditch effort in the waning seconds. Adu-Attobrah calmly tipped the shot over the bar, and the Terriers could not make anything of a rushed corner kick as time expired. Adu-Attobrah was making her second appearance of the season, with the other one an 18-minute stint at the end of a 4-0 rout of Saint Francis (Pa.) back on Sept. 20.
“We definitely had to do quite a bit of defending tonight,” said Kelly Cook, who has now taken her team to the championship game in all three of her seasons as Bucknell’s head coach. “Give Boston a lot of credit. They attacked, and we really had to dig in. Our 1v1 defending was excellent, and we showed a lot of heart and effort. We needed to be a little more skillful, but at the end of the day we got through. Alex scored a terrific goal, and ‘T’ stepped into a tough situation and did well in goal against a great team.”
This was the third straight year the Bison (11-8) and Terriers (10-8-3) met in the postseason. The other two came in championship-deciding games, as Boston University won 1-0 in the 2015 final, and the Bison returned the favor 2-1 in overtime last season.
Now Bucknell gets a rematch with top-seeded Navy. The Bison and Mids met in Annapolis just last week in the regular-season finale. Navy won 2-1 with the No. 1 seed on the line, thanks to a tiebreaking goal from Mary August in the 64th minute. Ham scored for Bucknell just before the half.
“Our game with Navy is still fresh in our memory, and we have a good feel for the adjustments that need to be made,” said Cook. “Navy is a very talented team, and we are going to have to work to make those adjustments from the last game right from the start.”
Bucknell and Navy have split four previous Patriot League Tournament meetings. The Bison won 2-1 in the 2001 championship game in Annapolis and 3-0 in the 2015 semifinals. The Mids prevailed 2-0 in the 1995 semis and 1-0 in the 2007 final at Emmitt Field.
Navy was a 3-0 winner over fourth-seeded Colgate earlier in the evening, with Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Ash Fairow scoring all three goals.
Sunday’s championship will start at noon at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility and will be streamed live on the Patriot League Network at PatriotLeague