LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Senior co-captain Cora Climo scored the ultimate golden goal, knocking a cross from Jackie Ham into the back of the net 4:36 into sudden-death overtime to give Bucknell a 2-1 victory over Boston University in the Patriot League women's soccer title match on Sunday at Emmitt Field. The dramatic goal delivered the third conference championship in program history and sends the Bison into the NCAA Tournament for the third time.
Climo was named Patriot League Tournament MVP after scoring her second goal of the season and fifth of her career. She has had a flair for the dramatic, as all five of her scores have come in one-goal victories for the Bison. It was also her second career postseason goal, with the other coming in a 2-1 win at Army in the 2014 Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals.
Now 16-1-2 on the season, Bucknell will be making its third NCAA Tournament appearance. The other two came in 2001 and 2005. The Bison had hosted the Patriot League championship weekend on two other occasions, but this was their first time lifting the trophy on home soil.
"It feels absolutely incredible," said head coach Kelly Cook, who takes her team to the NCAA Tournament in just her second year at Bucknell. "This team has worked so hard all season. I wanted the best for them. We played a great Boston team, and I couldn't be more proud of the group today."
This was a rematch of the 2015 title game, won by Boston University by a 1-0 count in Boston. It was scoreless at the half, although the Terriers (10-11-1) had the better of play for much of the opening 45 minutes with a stiff wind at their backs. Boston University outshot Bucknell 8-3 in the period, and Ratner was forced to make six saves. She was tested early, making a diving stop on a header by Julianna Chen off a corner kick in the fifth minute. Then in the 38th minute she made her best stop of the day, coming off her line to deflect a breakaway attempt by Shannon Keefe.
Bucknell had the benefit of the wind in the second half, and it needed only 5:45 to break the deadlock. Meghan Holtz sent in a hard, low cross from the right side. Alexis Gannon back-heeled the ball into the center of the box, and Maddie Mulford pounced on it and blasted a shot past keeper Bridget Conway into the top of the net. It was Mulford's 10th goal of the season, adding on to her career high.
The Bison were barely finished celebrating, however, when the Terriers shot right back and scored just 30 seconds later on a similar play. McKenna Doyle sent the cross into heavy traffic at the edge of the 6-yard box, and the ball leaked out to Ann Marie Jaworski in the center of the penalty area. Jaworski slotted home her first goal of the season to make it 1-1 with 38:45 still to play.
Boston University had overcome a 1-0 second-half deficit to beat Navy in Friday night's semifinal game, and it appeared as if it might do so again in the 77th minute, when Keefe got in alone after working a pretty passing combo with Chelsea Churchill. But as Ratner raced off her line, Keefe's shot sailed just barely over the crossbar.
The Terriers nearly got in again about a minute later, but Witt made a terrific play to step in front of the attacker and get the ball to safety.
Bucknell earned two corner kicks early in the overtime period after manufacturing only three in the 90 minutes of regulation. All that came from them was a Karli Cirovski shot from distance that was easily handled by Conway.
But in the 95th minute, the Bison struck gold. Boston University had to clear the ball from deep in its own corner, and sent it right to Ham on the left side of the field. Ham took one touch then struck an inswinging cross toward the back post, where Climo was fighting for position with a Terrier defender. Climo got just enough of her midsection on the ball to direct it into the goal, setting off a wild celebration for the Bison.
"Jackie served a great ball in, and I just thought 'get to the far post,'" said a jubilant Climo afterward. "I just tried to get whatever I could on it. It's unreal. This is the most amazing group of girls I've ever played with. It feels so good to get it my senior year on our home turf. I just can't describe it."
"I think we came out so fired up for the second half, and that's what got us through," said Mulford. "We've all been waiting for this, it's a dream come true."
This was the seventh Patriot League women's soccer title match to be decided in overtime, and the first since 2009, when Colgate defeated American 1-0. No championship game has ever reached penaly kicks.
At 16-1-2, Bucknell extended its school-record victory total and also ensured that it will enter the NCAA Tournament with one of the best records in the country. In fact, with the nation's last unbeaten team, South Carolina, falling to Florida in the Southeastern Conference semifinals on Friday, the Bison will be one of just a handful of one-loss teams in the field. South Carolina (18-1-1), Stanford (17-1-1) and Northwestern (14-1-3) will have just one setback, and West Virginia took an 18-1-1 mark into Sunday's Big 12 final against TCU.
The NCAA selection show will be streamed live on NCAA.com on Monday at 4:30 p.m.