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McPherson's Late-Game Heroics Give Dartmouth 2-1 Win at Cornell

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By John and Matt Risley

ITHACA, N.Y. - Senior Samantha McPherson made one final impression on the Dartmouth field hockey team in what could have been her final game with the program Saturday afternoon at Cornell.

The Ventura, Calif., native scored the game-winning goal with 56 seconds remaining and the game tied to lift the Big Green to a 2-1 victory.

After trailing 1-0 at the half, it was McPherson's goal nearly four minutes into the second that tied the game at 1-1 and set up for the dramatic conclusion to the regular season for Dartmouth.

The win gives the Green and White an 11-6 overall record and a mark of 6-1 in the Ivy League. Princeton, the only team to defeat Dartmouth in conference play back on Sept. 15, claimed the league crown with a 7-0 win against Penn Saturday afternoon, meaning the Big Green finish the 2012 campaign second in the standings; its best finish since 2005.

With Cornell taking a late first-half lead on Marisa Siergiej's goal, McPherson responded with her third of the year just 3:58 into the final frame to tie it. Senior co-captain Lisa Masini set up the play and was credited with her team-leading seventh assist of the fall.

With the remainder of the second half appearing to be a stalemate and the game destined for overtime for the second straight year between these two teams, McPherson once again stepped up to make sure her team came away victorious.

A redirect of an Ali Savage shot in the final minute beat Cornell goalkeeper Carolyn Horner, arguably the Ivy League's best at the position all season, to give the Green and White a one-goal advantage with 56 seconds showing on the scoreboard.

The Big Red pushed in the final seconds looking for the equalizer on Senior Day in an attempt to force overtime and send their three-member senior class out on a high note. But even a penalty corner with 10 seconds left was thwarted by a stingy Dartmouth defense determined to hold on for the final win of 2012.

Senior Jenna Stearns, making her final start for the Big Green, stopped three shots in the 70 minutes of action, including two in the final half. Horner was tasked with making four against a potent Dartmouth offense that had been on fire as of late.

The 11 wins are the first for the program since 2002 (11-7) and marked the fourth time under current head coach Amy Fowler. In all, this season was the eighth instance that the team has won 11 or more times in a year since the program was founded in 1972.