By Greg Chandler
In a game featuring wild swings of momentum, the Hope College women's lacrosse team pulled out perhaps its biggest victory in the program's seven-year history Wednesday.
Sophomore midfielder Carly Pieri of Alto, Michigan (Caledonia HS), pictured, scored the winning goal with 52 seconds remaining as the Flying Dutch upset top-seeded Saint Mary's College, 13-12, in the semifinals of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament in Notre Dame, Indiana.
It was the first time in the tournament's seven-year history a No. 4 seed beat a No. 1 seed.
Hope, now 11-5 on the season, will face second-seeded Albion College,in Saturday's title game at a time to be announced. Albion (13-4 was a 13-10 winner over Calvin College in Wednesday's other semifinal.
The Flying Dutch advanced to the MIAA tournament final for the second time in school history. In 2017, Hope defeated Saint Mary's in the semifinals before falling to Calvin in the championship game.
Pieri's game-winner, her fourth goal of the game and 46th of the season, capped a frantic final six minutes that saw the game tied on three separate occasions.
"It was definitely a team win, 100 percent. I wouldn't take credit for anything (personally)," Pieri said. "I think it was us all playing together throughout the whole game, and it really came out in the last couple of minutes when we were able to hold them off," Pieri said.
Hope, which had lost to Saint Mary's 22-8 April 13 in their previous meeting, jumped on the Belles in the first half. Pieri, who did not play in the first game due to illness, opened the scoring two minutes into the contest on a free position shot.
Freshman Madison McCreery of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS), scored three goals in the first half as the Flying Dutch took a 7-3 halftime lead. Hope got single goals each from sophomores Madison Micho of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS), Jane Ragains of Western Springs, Illinois (Lyons Township HS) and Rachel Elder of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS).
Saint Mary's stormed back in the second half, running off six unanswered goals in the first 8 minutes, 17 seconds to grab a 9-7 advantage. Pieri's second goal of the night stemmed the Belles' run, but another Saint Mary's goal made it 10-8 with 13 minutes remaining.
The Flying Dutch mounted a comeback of their own as Pieri scored again to pull Hope within one. Elder then scored twice, both times set up by teammate Paige Wilmer of Columbus, Ohio (Upper Arlington HS), to put Hope ahead 11-10 with 3:28 to play.
"We just buckled down on everything, working on the fundamentals, making sure we had certain things covered," Hope coach Kim Vincent said. "Taking care of the draw was key to us getting possession, and we managed to regain some of that advantage that we had in the first part of the game."
Saint Mary's (12-6) tied the score on a goal off a free position shot, setting the stage for a wild final two minutes. Micho scored with 1:59 remaining to put the Flying Dutch in the lead at 12-11, but the Belles' Molly Stout responded with a goal 29 seconds later to even the score again, setting the stage for Pieri's dramatic game-winner.
The Flying Dutch limited the nation's second-leading goal scorer, Erin Doyle, to one goal and three assists. Doyle entered the game with 102 goals on the season.
Hope outshot the Belles 37-28 for the contest, and forced Saint Mary's into 40 turnovers.
It was the third straight game that Pieri had scored four goals in a game and the sixth time overall this season she has scored that many goals. Wilmer had three assists, scooped up eight ground balls and had five draw controls.
Sophomore goalkeeper Laurel Frederickson of Alto, Michigan (Lowell HS) made 10 saves in the nets for Hope.