Thompson’s thrilling overtime goal wins CHA Championship for Syracuse

Syracuse wins CHA Championship over Mercyhurst

The Orange will play in the NCAA Tournament after Saturday's 3-2 win over Mercyhurst.
Published: February 27, 2022
Syracuse senior Lauren Bellefontaine and graduate student Victoria Klimek hold back tears as they hug each other after winning the CHA championship in overtime.
Lauren Bellefontaine and Victoria Klimek celebrate winning the CHA championship in overtime.

Sarah Thompson’s overtime goal brought the Syracuse women’s hockey team over the boards and onto the ice to celebrate a College Hockey America championship victory on Saturday.

Thompson found the back of the net with 12:28 remaining in the extra stanza to give the Orange (15-10-6) a 3-2 victory over Mercyhurst (21-12-2) at Tennity Ice Pavilion.

“I was standing in front of the net and I saw [Jessica DiGirolamo] at the top of the point, something we’ve worked on for a long time. She just ripped the puck, the puck was there, and I hit it,” Thompson said.

“I don’t remember a single thing after that except for being at the bottom of the dogpile and not being able to breathe. But I mean that in the best way possible,” Thompson said with a laugh.

“Coach was talking about dragging the net all game,” Thompson said. “I was in the right spot at the right time, and I was able to put it home.”

The win punched Syracuse’s ticket to the NCAA Tournament, and the Orange will now await their next opponent.

“That’s what’s so special about overtime,” Orange coach Paul Flanagan said. “It’s just a flash, it’s over and the kids are over the bench. To win in OT like that, it’s just so much fun. It’s pretty dramatic.”

Abby Moloughney and Sarah Marchand provided Syracuse with its first two goals, and Arielle DeSmet made 29 saves to pick up the win in the Orange net.


Syracuse's Tatum White dekes around Mercyhurst's Sydney Pederson for a shot on net.
Syracuse's Tatum White dekes around Mercyhurst's Sydney Pederson for a shot on net.

“[DeSmet] has our back all the time, so it’s doing those little things to help her out, because she helps us out,” DiGirolamo said. “That’s how we win a championship. That’s how we did win a championship, and that’s how we’re going to move forward and be successful–by doing those little things right.”

Sara Boucher and Alexa Vasko lit the lamp for the Lakers, but their squad’s comeback attempt fell short.

“Both teams had really good chances, and there were really good saves on both sides of the net,” Boucher said. “That’s what we worked for all year, and it sucks that it ended the way it did.”

Mercyhurst had to battle back after Syracuse grabbed early momentum.

“Credit to our players and their pride,” Lakers coach Michael Sisti said. “They fought back and did exactly what we expected them to do, and fought back to get back in the game.”

Moloughney scored with 1:50 remaining in the first period to send the Orange to the dressing room with plenty of confidence.

“I’m happy with the way I played and I’m happy with getting that first goal, because I think it really pushed the momentum forward,” Moloughney said.

Syracuse poured it on as Marchand lit the lamp with 5:48 gone in the middle period, but that’s when the Lakers started to rally.

The Syracuse women's hockey team celebrates with the CHA trophy after scoring in overtime.
The Syracuse women's hockey team celebrates with the CHA trophy at Tennity Ice Pavilion on Saturday.

Boucher buried a shot just over five minutes later to cut Mercyhurst’s deficit in half. Vasko tallied the equalizing goal with 12:05 to go in the third period, setting up a drama-filled ending.

“I think our team did a good job of battling back on the road from being down two,” Sisti said. “A real good game, could have gone either way.”

But as much pressure as both teams faced, the Orange were up for the challenge.

“A lot of us were a little bit gassed, I won’t lie,” Thompson said. “Three periods of playoff hockey was tough but again, our upperclassmen did a really good job of getting us all energized. We were able to rally together and muster up enough energy to finish off the game.”

Syracuse beat Rochester Institute of Technology in overtime 3-2 the day before, so the Orange were ready and waiting for an opportunity to advance and had plenty of confidence.

“It was getting into that mentality that you gotta give it your all,” Moloughney said. “You don’t want to leave the rink having lost and knowing that you could have done better.”

Now it’s time for Syracuse to wait and see what team is next.

“We’ve had a great run and we’re going to continue,” DiGirolamo said.