Zarrella's Second Half Goal Sends Field Hockey to National Championship Game

GENEVA, N.Y. –  After not being able to get off a shot in the first half, the No. 3 Tufts field hockey team got a second half goal from senior Dominique Zarrella to edge No. 2 Salisbury, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon at William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y. in the NCAA semifinals.  The Jumbos advance to play top-ranked Messiah in the NCAA Final on Sunday at 1 pm.

With the win the Jumbos move to 19-2 on the season.  Salisbury sees their season come to an end with an 18-2 record.  Messiah beat Babson, 5-2, in Saturday's first semifinal game to advance to Sunday's national championship game.  The Jumbos will be playing for their second national championship on Sunday.

Things were pretty even between the two teams for the first 20 minutes as neither team was able to generate much offensive momentum and the game was played from 25 to 25 for the first half of the first half.

The Gulls were able to get onto the Jumbos end of the field with about 18:33 left in the first half, but as soon as the ball entered the circle sophomore goalie Emily Polinski came out and kicked the ball away making sure Salisbury had no chance to get on the board.

With just under ten minutes remaining in the half junior Erin Sanders was able to fire a ball into the circle, but with traffic in front of the goal the ball sailed just wide and the Jumbos were not able to convert on their first real scoring opportunity of the half.

Salisbury would draw the first penalty corner of the game with just about 30 seconds remaining in the first half, but they were not able to get on the board and the game went into the half tied at zero.

 The Gulls drew a penalty corner just about three minutes into the second half, but they were not able to get a shot off and the Jumbos kept the Gulls off the board.

With just under 30 minutes remaining in the half, the Jumbos had a great chance when junior Mary Kate Patton found senior Annie Artz in front of the goal but Artz's shot sailed just wide of the goal, unable to put the Jumbos on the board.

The Jumbos celebrate their eventual game-winning goal

The Jumbos got their first corner with 23 minutes left in the half, but they weren't able to manage much on that corner other than to draw another penalty corner.  On the second corner, Sander's shot was blocked by Salisbury to keep the Jumbos scoreless.  About five minutes later the Jumbos drew another penalty corner, but once again the Gull defense was able to keep the Jumbos off the board.

Junior Tressie Windsor was forced to make two key saves with about 16 minutes left in the game, as Patton rifled a few shots on goal.  The Jumbos drew their fourth penalty corner shortly after, but Sander's shot was once again stopped by Windsor.

The offensive pressure continued for the Jumbos and with about 11:30 remaining on the clock the Jumbos would draw another penalty corner. They were not able to get a goal on the corner, but sophomore Claire Trilling maintained possession off the ball and fired the ball towards the goal.  Senior Dominique Zarrella tipped the ball but Salisbury's Jessie Todd was able to make a defensive save to keep the Jumbos off the board.  Zarrella got the rebound and edged the ball into the top left corner of the goal to give the Jumbos the 1-0 advantage.

With about nine minutes left in the second half, the rain really started to come down, but the Gulls did not give up and they drew a penalty corner with just under six minutes remaining.  After a Gull shot was fired at the goal, the ball was redirected twice but the Gulls were not able to get in on goal and the Jumbos cleared the ball.  

Polinski was at her finest with just over three minutes remaining in the game as the Gulls pressured but she was a rock in the goal, keeping the Gulls off the board with a couple of redirected shots.

The Jumbos drew a penalty corner with just under one minute remaining, but the Gulls kept the Jumbos from scoring.  But, they were not able to get the ball down field and the Jumbos held on for the 1-0 win.  

The Jumbos had the advantage in shots, 8-3, and also penalty corners, 7-3.  Polinski made three saves in the win, while Windsor made seven saves for the Gulls.

Tomorrow's National Championship will start at 1 pm, as the Jumbos take on Messiah, looking to win their second national title.

Photos by Anna Miller / Tufts