Erin Caton scored a tiebreaking goal with 24 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Hope College women's lacrosse team into its first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament championship match.
The junior from Rochester Hills, Michigan (Pontiac Notre Dame Prep HS), pictured, propelled the Flying Dutch to a 12-11 semifinal victory at second-seeded Saint Mary's on Wednesday.
Hope (9-6 overall) earned a rematch in Saturday's 4 p.m. title match at Calvin. The winner receives the MIAA's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Top-seeded Calvin (11-5) topped Albion 15-4 in Wednesday's other semifinal. The Flying Dutch lost at Calvin 16-4 on April 22.
Hope's nine wins are the most in a season for the Flying Dutch since they became a varsity program in 2013.
"It's a pretty incredible opportunity for this group," Hope coach Kim Vincent said. "We have seven seniors graduating this year. They've been with the program for three years. Six of them started playing lacrosse three years ago. They started to get some confidence in themselves and it culminated into a productive and a successful season for us."
Against Saint Mary's, Hope netted 10 second-half goals to avenge a 13-11 loss at Saint Mary's just six days earlier.
Two goals from senior and All-MIAA First-Team attacker Alexandra Webb of Woodland Hills, California (Calabasas) with a 3 ½-minute span midway through the second half started a run of five consecutive goals and a 9-7 lead with 12:13 remaining.
Saint Mary's (10-7) rallied to take a 10-9 lead with 5:24 lead, but two unassisted goals from senior Dana Kym of Libertyville, Illinois (Libertyville) put the Flying Dutch back on top.
The Belles evened the score on Clare Thiesen's goal with 48 seconds remaining in regulation.
Kym scooped the draw control out of the first to give Hope possession. After a couple of passes, sophomore Allison Darnell of Farmington Hills, Michigan (North Farmington) got possession and set up Caton for her fourth goal of the game and her 20th of the season.
"Erin was in the perfect position to take a shot on the cross," Vincent said. "Saint Mary's is a well-coached team. They were trying to capitalize on their strengths and our weaknesses, got into our heads a little bit.
"We focused (after halftime) on staying composed under the pressure of the game, staying composed under the pressure of multiple defenders and making smarter decisions. Everyone worked well together."
Kym and Webb finished with three goals and two assists apiece.
Darnell and junior Emily Deane of Rochester Hills, Michigan (Adams) also had goals for Hope.