For the second straight year, Bethel lacrosse received an at-large bid to the WCLL DII Postseason Tournament, which was held last weekend in Pontiac, Michigan. The Pilots went 2-1 on the day by picking up a pair of wins against Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green to earn a spot in the championship match before falling to Grand Valley 12-9.
Looking to avenge their loss to Eastern Michigan in the 2016 season finale, BC opened up a 5-3 lead by the first half break. In the opening stanza, Bethel's midfield was able to force EMU in a handful of turnovers, which allowed the Pilots more possessions. In addition, the great play of Sam Bellis in the goal kept Eastern Michigan to just three goals. After the halftime break, Eastern Michigan came out strong, and halfway through the second half, the BC lead was whittled down to a single goal. Bethel responded by dominating the last 15 minutes of play to earn an 11-6 victory. Kennedy Lower had her best game of the season and led the Pilots in scoring with three goals. Overall, the Pilots recorded seven assists on their 11 total goals while seven different Pilots contributed in the scoring column.
In game two, the Pilots had a much anticipated rematch with conference foe Bowling Green. Having lost four straight contests to the Falcons over the past two seasons, including the conference title match, Bethel had extra motivation to pick up a win, which would send them into the WCLL DII championship match.
Bowling Green was able to establish a one-goal lead by the midway point of the game, but in the second half, Bethel responded and knotted the score heading into the last minute of regulation. The Falcons, who had possession, took three shots at Bellis who picked up three timely saves, forcing the game to go into a sudden-death overtime. After a short delay in the action due to an untimely BGSU injury, the overtime period began. Although Bethel was prepared for two, three-minute periods, it did not take long before the Pilots needed the game winner. With possession inside the eight-meter arc, Katie Hamilton rolled to left and took a left-handed shot to win the game only 30 seconds into the overtime. The Pilots were led in scoring by Kara Holmes with five goals and Allison Coffeen with three of her own.
With the win, BC advanced to the finals against Grand Valley State. Right from the start, Bethel looked a little sluggish coming off an emotional semifinal win. By the fifteen-minute mark in the first half, Bethel was down 6-1. Out of a timeout, Bethel held Grand Valley to one goal all while tallying three of their own to inch within three goals by the half. Out of the intermission, Bethel had the momentum and went on a 5-2 run, deadlocking the game at 9-9 with two minutes to play. A GVSU timeout slowed down the Pilots' momentum. With 90 seconds remaining, an eight-meter penalty shot put Grand Valley up 10-9. With very little time remaining, Bethel had to play aggressive defense, which led to another quick penalty shot by Grand Valley. GVSU converted twice more to open up a 12-9 lead, which proved to be the final count.
Bethel ends its season with an overall record of 14-4.
The Bethel College Pilots compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. While accumulating 3 NAIA National Championships and 32 NCCAA National Championships by 10 different athletic teams, Bethel has also produced 143 NAIA All-American honors and 309 NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors over the past decade. Bethel College is an accredited Christian college offering associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in more than 70 areas of study. Connect with Bethel Athletics online at BethelCollegePilots.com or via Facebook (Facebook.com/BethelPilots), Twitter (Twitter.com/Bethel_Sports & @Bethel_Sports) and Instagram (@BethelPilots).