SELINSGROVE, Pa. — Goucher wiped out a three-goal deficit in the third quarter by scoring three times in a span of less than two minutes. But Susquehanna responded by tallying five of the next six goals on the way to a 9-6 victory over the Gophers this evening on Sassafras Field in the finals of the 2014 Landmark Conference championship tournament.
By beating the Gophers for the first time in nine tries, the Crusaders became the first team to win back-to-back Landmark titles in the seven-year history of the conference.
During the first 10 minutes of this evening's contest, Nick Reardon and Sam Morgan (Wilmot, N.H./Kearsarge Regional) traded goals, with Reardon putting Susquehanna on top, 1-0, midway through the first quarter and Morgan answering less than two minutes later. The 1-1 tie held up until Austen Lein stuck an unassisted goal with :03 showing on the clock to put the top-seeded Crusaders (11-7) up 2-1.
Lien also accounted for the only goal scored in the second period as the top-seeded Crusaders owned a 3-1 lead after 30 minutes.
Susquehanna went ahead 4-1 when Jake Calder opened the scoring in the second half with an unassisted goal just 1:36 into the third period, but there's nothing like a faceoff win and quick goal to ignite a rally and that's what happened for Goucher. Tristan Morris (Houston, Texas/Houston Christian), who won 15 of the game's 18 faceoffs, gained possession for the Gophers (7-8) following Calder's goal and just two passes and eight seconds later, Dylan Zook (Purcellville, Va./Loudoun Valley) put one in past the opposing goalkeeper.
Less than a minute later, Morgan made the score 4-3 with his team-leading 27th goal of the season; just over a minute later, an unassisted goal by Sam Woodruff (Glen Ridge, N.J./Kent School) created a 4-4 tie.
Reardon put his team back on top when he scored at 10:32 of the third quarter, but an unassisted goal by Pierce Ingram (Austin, Texas/Westwood) at 7:10 once again had the two teams knotted up, this time at 5-5.
Susquehanna regained the lead again on Lein's third goal of the contest with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter and then the period became a wash when Lein set up a goal by Greg Rabiecki with :06 on the clock and the Crusaders, who begame the period ahead by two, also ended it up by that same margin.
A pair of goals in the fourth quarter by Nick Reardon hiked Susquehanna's lead to 9-5 and left only enough time for the Gophers to get one goal back, an unassisted tally by Owen Demmerly Medford, N.J./Shawnee) with just 1:03 remaining.
Although Goucher finished with a 42-37 advantage in shots, only 21 of the attempts by the Gophers were on goal. Led by Morris with seven and Steve Patterson (Minneapolis, Minn./Blake School) with four, Goucher also collected 24 ground balls, six more than their opponent.
Both starting goalkeepers reached double figures in saves: Jared Knowlton, who was selected tournament MVP, stopped 15 shots and Karl Wiszumerski (Pottstown, Pa./The Hill School) was credited with 13 saves.
Neither team was able to score a man-up goal. By killing off all four of their time-served penalties, the Gophers' opponents in their final four games of the season were 0-for-14 on extra-man opportunities.