ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- In the defining performance of her brilliant career, senior Kendall Ham scored three goals in the first 21 minutes of the match to get Bucknell off to a dream start, and the second-seeded Bison held on down the stretch for a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Navy in the Patriot League Women's Soccer Tournament championship on Saturday at Glenn Warner Soccer Facility. It is the second straight Patriot League title and fourth overall for the Bison, who will find out their NCAA Tournament destination on Monday at 4:30 p.m.
A year ago, Bucknell (12-8) needed an overtime goal from Cora Climo to defeat Boston University 2-1 in the Patriot League title match. This time the Bison shocked regular-season champion Navy (16-4-1) with an incredible three-goal flurry from Ham, who would later earn Tournament MVP honors.
Just 88 seconds into the contest Bucknell had the lead. Ali Russo took a throw-in deep in the right corner. Maddie Mulford touched the ball back to her along the end line, and Russo's cross to the back post was headed in by Ham. The Navy defender appeared to have inside position, but Ham won the battle in the air and nodded the ball back across the goal inside the right post.
It was nearly a short-lived celebration, however, as just seconds later Navy’s Megan Rogers ripped a high shot that Bison goalkeeper Theresa Adu-Attobrah tipped up and off the crossbar. Adu-Attobrah then made another save on Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Ash Fairow not long after the restart.
Then in the 12th minute, Ham found herself in acres of space in the middle of the park going the other way. She switched to her left foot as she approached the top of the area and blasted a shot past Sydney Fortson for a 2-0 lead.
Ham again dashed through the defense, this time getting tripped up and drawing a yellow card on Navy back Alex Jackson. Meghan Holtz took the free kick from the left corner of the box, but Mulford’s re-direct attempt went just wide.
Bucknell earned a corner kick in the 21st minute. Navy cleared, but only as far as Holtz at the top of the 18, and her tracer ticketed for the top-left corner was headed off the line by Rogers. It went out for another corner, and this time Ham headed in Karli Cirovski's service to complete her hat trick in just 21:05 of action.
Navy threw everything it had at the Bison, who had to spend long stretches defending the rest of the way. The Mids pulled one back in the 28th minute on a Clare MacAdam shot from the top of the box.
After Karli Sottung missed the right post by inches, Fairow got loose behind the defense and slotted home a left-footed shot in the 65th minute to make it a 3-2 game.
Navy sent ball after ball into the Bucknell area and earned eight second-half corner kicks, but the Bison held strong in front of Adu-Attobrah, a sophomore making her first collegiate start on a big stage after classmate Dani Kaufman was injured in Friday’s semifinal win over Boston University.
Adu-Attobrah was credited with two saves, but she calmly handled a several services into her area. Navy drew a dangerous free kick with about three minutes to go but sent the shot into the wall. When the Mids were whistled for a foul near midfield with 20 seconds left, the countdown began and the joyous Bison bench rushed the field in celebration.
Ham recorded the second hat trick of her career and fourth in the history of the Patriot League Tournament. The third came from Fairow just two nights earlier in Navy’s 3-0 semifinal win over Colgate.
Ham now has 41 career goals, which moves her past Liz Woodrow into the No. 2 spot in team history. Only the Hall-of-Famer Lisa Gibbons (66) has more. Ham also moved into third on the career points list with 94.
Bucknell has won back-to-back Patriot League titles for the first time, with its other championships coming in 2001, 2005 and 2016. This was the third time Bucknell and Navy met in the PL title game, and the road team has won all three. The Bison won here in 2001, while Navy returned the favor in Lewisburg in 2007.
Ham was joined on the All-Tournament team by Cirovski, Meghan Holtz and Alexandra Catanzarite, who scored a dramatic 87th-minute goal against Boston University in the semis to send the Bison on to the final.
The final countdown ... pic.twitter.com/wtPXbKrYHQ— Bucknell WSoccer (@Bucknell_WSOC) November 5, 2017
More postgame celly! pic.twitter.com/g0RvUk55l8— Bucknell WSoccer (@Bucknell_WSOC) November 5, 2017
Coach Cook on winning back2back titles ... pic.twitter.com/L7rsFOnBwK— Bucknell WSoccer (@Bucknell_WSOC) November 5, 2017
More from Coach Cook ... pic.twitter.com/NBh2lImWyA— Bucknell WSoccer (@Bucknell_WSOC) November 5, 2017
Let's hear from Theresa Adu-Attobrah, our winning goalkeeper ... pic.twitter.com/4iWOURnkZH— Bucknell WSoccer (@Bucknell_WSOC) November 5, 2017