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Lynchburg tops Denison 3-1 in NCAA Tournament first round

Lucy Pearsall  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Lucy Pearsall | Photo by Jace Delgado

LYNCHBURG, Va.--  Denison's 13-game winning streak came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament as Lynchburg rallied for a 3-1 win over the Big Red.  The 20th ranked Big Red's season comes to an end with a record of 18-3.

The Big Red came out as the aggressor, attempting eight shots in the first half.  Denison broke through five just over five minutes left in the opening period when AC Veith inserted a penalty corner to Kat Swan.  Swan's shot was saved by Lynchburg goalie Laurel Nicks and Veith's follow-up was also turned away.  Charlotte Godfrey managed to finish off the play with her ninth goal of the season on a pass from Veith to give Denison a 1-0 lead.

Nicks was a problem for the Big Red all afternoon and it became apparent early in the second half that Denison would need to find a way to get another past the Hornets' stingy netminder.  One of Lynchburg's biggest strengths all season long was their ability to score off penalty corners.  Seven minutes into the second half, Kayla Copeman inserted the ball to Nikki Simpao who took the ball at the top of the circle and curled toward the goal.  Simpao found Alexis Brown at the doorstep for the equalizer.

In the 50th minute, Denison nearly took a 2-1 lead when Lucy Pearsall's shot was turned away by a glove save from Nicks.

At the other end, Lynchburg's Simpao came close to breaking the tie but Denison goalie Teya Adams was there for the save and Pearsall cleared the ball, but a penalty corner was given to the Hornets.

Once again, Lynchburg cashed in on a corner attempt as Jackie Lerro took the pass from Kayla Copeman who flashed to her position at the post of the cage.  Lerro went low and to the left and Copeman was there for the deflection, giving Lynchburg a 2-1 lead.

Four minutes later, Lerro got out on a breakaway attempt and Adams had to come out of the box to challenge.  Lerro and Adams made contact and the Hornets were awarded a penalty stroke.  Simpao was given the opportunity to take the stroke and she converted, setting the final score at 3-1.

Denison had one last look at a scoring opportunity in the final minutes of play as Charlotte Happel put a shot on goal that was saved by Nicks for her season-best 13th save of the contest.  Her previous high was 12 saves against Rowan on Sept. 22.

The Big Red held a 21-10 advantage in shots and took nine penalty corners to Lynchburg's six.  Adams ended with four saves for Denison and Godfrey paced the squad with six shots and one goal.

Lynchburg advances to Saturday's second round where they will face No. 3 Rowan (20-0) at 11 a.m. in Glassboro, New Jersey.  This is Denison's second-straight NCAA Tournament berth and the second consecutive year a team from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference has ended the Big Red's season.  At 18-2, DU equaled the school record for wins set in 2011 and 1984.  They will also take a record 26-game North Coast Athletic Conference regular season winning streak into next season.