A first time champion will be crowned on Saturday afternoon when The University of Scranton visits Susquehanna for the Landmark Conference field hockey championship game. The Royals are hoping to leave Selinsgrove with that title and the automatic bid the NCAA Tournament that goes with it.
Scranton (13-5) and Susquehanna (10-8) will square off in Saturday's championship game at 2 p.m. at Susquehanna's Sassafras Field in Selinsgrove, Pa.
The Royals and River Hawks both notched upset wins on the road in the semifinal round to advance to Saturday's title round.
Scranton, the fourth seed, edged top-seeded Catholic 1-0 in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to reach the Landmark Conference championship game for just the second time in program history. Sophomore Megan Gallagher (Thorndale, Pa./Bishop Shanahan) scored the game's only goal with 11 minutes left in regulation.
Sophomore Jenna Cyr (Coopersburg, Pa./Southern Lehigh) made four saves against the Cardinals to post the shutout and was aided by a defensive save from junior Caroline Mullen (Chester Springs, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) in the second half.
McClatchy lead Scranton in scoring with 37 points and 16 goals, both of which are tops in the Landmark Conference. Senior Elizabeth Tolley (Brookside, N.J./West Morris Mendham) has tallied nine goals and a conference-best eight assist for 26 points while Gallagher has 16 points on five goals and six helpers this fall.
Cyr has been solid in goal for the Royals, posting an 11-4 record with a 1.00 goals against average and a .792 save percentage. The sophomore has played in all seven shutouts logged by Scranton this fall including six solo shutouts for Cyr.
Scranton is making its second appearance in the Landmark Conference championship after falling to Catholic in the 2013 title game, 2-0. The Royals are also seeking their second NCAA Tournament bid, having previously made the field in 1997.
Susquehanna also used a 1-0 victory to reach Saturday's championship game as the third-seeded River Hawks knocked off second-seeded Elizabethtown in the semifinal round on Wednesday. Sophomore Vivian Simone (Belvidere, N.J./Notre Dame Green Pond) scored the only goal of the contest in the 32nd minute and junior Emily DiGaetano (Havertown, Pa./Haverford) made seven saves to record the shutout.
Junior Hunter Pitman (White Haven, Pa./Crestwood) paced the River Hawks' offense with 25 points on 11 goals and three assists while Sabbak and Simone have netted six goals apiece.
DiGaetano sports a 1.40 goals against average and a .758 save percentage with a 5-6 record in 11 starts this fall in Susquehanna's cage while junior Veronica Green (Slatington, Pa./Northern Lehigh) is 4-2 with a 1.96 goals against average and a .733 save percentage in six starts on the season.
Susquehanna will be making its third appearance in the Landmark Conference championship game on Saturday. The River Hawks dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to Elizabethtown in the 2016 final after being edged by the same score line by Juniata in 2009.
Saturday's championship game will be the 41st all-time meeting between the Royals and River Hawks, but it's the first postseason matchup between teams. Scranton leads the all-time series 22-15-3 including an exciting 3-2 victory in the regular season meeting between the two sides which was played in Scranton on October 20.
Juniors Gracie McClatchy (Havertown, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) and Brianna Witt (Sloatsburg, N.Y./Suffern) both scored in the first 25 minutes to give Scranton a 2-0 edge before junior Heather Casey (Glenmoore, Pa./Downingtown West) cut Susquehanna's deficit in half in the 31st minute.
McClatchy netted her second goal of the game just 35 seconds before halftime to restore the Royals' two-goal advantage, but the River Hawks pulled back to within a goal at 3-2 when sophomore Jenni Sabbak (Little Falls, N.J./Passaic Valley) scored in the 42nd minute. Scranton held on for the win though as Cyr finished the contest with six saves.
Admission to Saturday's championship game is $7 for adults and $4 for seniors (62 and older) and non-Landmark Conference students. Children ages 10 and under are admitted free of charge, as are all Landmark Conference students, faculty and staff with their school ID.
For fans unable to make the trip to Susquehanna, live coverage will be available as listed below.