Women: Plattsburgh wins fourth consecutive D-III title with overtime thriller

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 (Lynda Kelley/d3photography.com)
Plattsburgh doing something it has done often in recent years – celebrating a D-III national championship (photo: Lynda Kelley/d3photography.com).

ADRIAN, Mich. — Plattsburgh senior defenseman Erin Brand had difficulty explaining herself Saturday night.

It would be tough to blame her.

Brand took a pass from Megan Crandell at the left side faceoff circle, dangled an Adrian defender and scored her 11th goal of the season at 10:34 of overtime to give the Cardinals a 4-3 overtime win in the NCAA Division III women’s championship at Arrington Ice Arena on Saturday.

“I’ll definitely never forget it,” said Brand. “I kind of blacked out, to be honest with you. I just saw the puck go in the back of the net and that was it.”

The win provided coach Kevin Houle’s team its fourth consecutive title and sixth in school history.

“I don’t know if any other hockey team has done that,” Houle said. “To win four national titles — what a special feeling and what an accomplishment. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Believe it or not, but the Cardinals were 4:52 from being on the other side of the score line.

Adrian’s Sarah Shureb skated the puck on a rush near the right side half wall and sniped home a shot into the opposite, top corner for her 25th tally of the season at 15:08 of the third, giving the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead on their only even-strength marker of the evening.

“I just heard someone yell, ‘shoot!’ ” Shureb said. “Honestly, I thought it was going wide and, all of a sudden, the red light goes on.”

Shureb’s goal almost held as the regulation winner until Plattsburgh senior defenseman Julia Duquette, playing up near the Adrian blue line with the extra attacker on, took a loose puck and weaved through three Bulldogs, slotting home a glove side goal at 19:39 to make it 3-3 and force overtime.

“We’re not used to being down a goal,” said Cardinals senior goaltender Camille Leonard. “It just shows how resilient this team is.”

Plattsburgh State carried play for most of the first period with the aid of penalties to Adrian’s Kristi Zink for crosschecking at 7:42 and Brooke Lupi for hooking at 11:33. The Cardinals outshot Adrian 10-4 in the opening frame with three attempts by Karen Hudson from the left side and a shot from Brand that hit the pipe during the penalty to Zink. Despite this, the Bulldogs found decent chances to enter the scoresheet.

“We were right there,” said Bulldogs coach Chad Davis. “These guys worked extremely hard to get themselves in a position to do it. There were waves; they started out pretty good.”

“We never got down. We were always picking each other up on the bench,” said Shureb.

Adrian junior Rose Krasofsky snapped a shot from the right side on a two-on-one rush into the leg pads of Leonard that bounced to the left side and just out of the reach of a rushing Maggie Mitter at 14:26. Olivia Fox sent a blocker-side shot just wide of the opposite post at 17:27 and Lupi snapped a shot right into Leonard’s midsection on a rush at 18:54.

“We were right there on a lot of them,” Davis said. “They had their opportunities, too. Brooke, she’s been unbelievable throughout the playoffs,” he added of his senior goaltender, Brooke Gibson.

Plattsburgh struck first on the power play at 18:00 of the second period while Shureb was in the box for a checking minor at 17:33. The Cardinals pounced on a mishap during a change as Kayla Meneghin skated the puck down the right side to the half wall and found Melissa Sheeran streaking down the slot, who took the puck and deked Gibson for her NCAA-best 33rd goal.

Lupi answered right back for Adrian on a laser from the high slot at 18:33, just 20 seconds into a tripping minor assessed to Plattsburgh State’s Hannah Kiraly, tying the score, 1-1.

“There wasn’t a lot of five-on-five in that second period,” Houle said. “We knew once we could get the game back to where we wanted it, playing five-on-five, that we had a chance at winning. We just had to stay out of the box somehow.”

Courtney Moriarty put Plattsburgh back in front, 2-1, at 5:23 of the third on assists from Mackenzie Millen and Elizabeth Viola, but Adrian answered 5:08 later on Mitter’s fourth goal of the year, assisted by Kristin Lewicki and Lupi with the man advantage while the Cardinals’ Kiraly was boxed again, this time for hooking at 9:00.

“Congrats to [Plattsburgh],” said Davis. “They found a way to do it.”

Adrian’s season ends at 28-3, all three losses to the champion Cardinals. Plattsburgh finishes 28-1-1, a Nov. 20, 2016, loss (3-2) to then-No. 9 Oswego State shy of an undefeated campaign.

“Right now, it’s kind of surreal,” said Brand. “It hasn’t really hit me yet, but definitely, down the road, it’s going to be awesome to look back on.”

In the third-place game:

Gustavus Adolphus 3, Norwich 1: Diana Draayer’s goal at 18:16 of the second period on assists from Emily Gustafson and Laura Johnson lifted Gustavus Adolphus over Norwich in the consolation game. Erica Power scored for the Golden Gusties on the power play at 2:45 of the second, but it was answered by the Cadets’ Adelle Murphy, also on the power play, at 18:06 on assists from Maddie Tasha and Kim Tiberi. Ten seconds later Draayer struck for the game winner. Erica Power’s shorthanded tally at 11:38 of the third, assisted by Laine Fischer, gave the Gusties insurance. Celeste Robert made 35 saves for Norwich, but it was Amanda DiNella taking the win with 22 saves.

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