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April 11, 2015

Grove City finishes fourth at CWPA DIII Championships

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- The Grove City College women's water polo team wrapped up their 2015 season with a fourth-place finish at the 2015 Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III Championships on Saturday afternoon. The Wolverines (7-11) fell to Division III No. 6 and top-seeded Connecticut College, 12-7, in the semifinals before losing a heartbreaking 11-10 sudden-death overtime decision to Carthage in the third-place game.

Senior Jocelyn Hinkle (Freeland, Pa./Hazleton) was named to the All-Tournament First Team after recording 11 goals, seven assists and 22 steals over the three games while sophomore Abby Jank (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) earned a spot on the Second Team with two goals, six assists, 12 steals and 13 sprint wins on the weekend.

In the opener, Connecticut jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the first period but junior Ashley Parks (Westerville, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) countered with a pair of goals to bring the Wolverines within 3-2 by the end of the first. The Camels would answer with a 7-1 run spanning the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach.

Parks and freshman Maggie Blume (Chicago, Ill./Resurrection) each netted hat tricks for Grove City while Jank added a single goal. Hinkle led the team defensively with nine steals and assisted on three goals while junior Ashley Henderson (Lansing, Mich./Lansing Christian) also had three assists. Jank won three of four sprints while sophomore goalkeeper Mary Frank (Centreville, Md./Queen Anne's County) made ten saves in goal.

In the third-place game against Carthage, Grove City fell behind early once again as the Lady Reds scored three goals in the first 3:11 to take an early 3-0 lead. The Wolverines would show their resiliency once again as Hinkle would hammer home a penalty shot at the 4:32 mark to get the Wolverines on the board. Following a Blume goal just 40 seconds later, Hinkle would tie the score at 3-3 with a breakaway point blank slam with just 37 seconds remaining in the first.

Carthage would take a 5-3 lead in the second period after scoring a pair of six-on-five goals following Wolverine exclusions, but Jank would score in the final minute to bring Grove City back within a goal for a 5-4 halftime deficit. Each team would score twice in the third quarter, with Hinkle and Blume recording the Wolverine tallies to keep the Wolverines close at 7-6 through three periods.

Grove City looked as if they might have finally found the answer in the fourth quarter as junior Kira Okray (Bloomfield, Mich./Detroit Country Day) evened the score at 7-7 less than a minute into the period and Hinkle converted a five-meter penalty shot just thirty seconds later to give Grove City its first lead of the game at 8-7. The Wolverines would hold that lead throughout most of the period, but an exclusion call against Grove City would give Carthage the opportunity it wanted, and the Lady Reds capitalized the six-on-five to tie the game at 8-8 with 49 seconds remaining to force overtime.

The Lady Reds netted the lone goal of the first three-minute overtime period to make it a 9-8 game, and it looked as if that might be enough, as Carthage held that lead throughout the first 2:33 of the second overtime period. Hinkle, as she had done for much of her career, would give the Wolverines life once again, stealing the ball and driving down the pool on her own for a one-on-one with the Carthage goalkeeper. Hinkle's first attempt was stuffed, but she grabbed her own rebound and slammed it home to tie the game at 9-9 with just 27 seconds left in regulation.

Carthage remained undeterred, however, and came right down the pool and skipped a shot into the back of the cage to retake the lead and send an apparent knockout blow at 10-9 with just 16 seconds remaining. Grove City would fight back one last time, calling a timeout to set up a play. The Wolverines drew an exclusion with just three seconds left, and Grove City managed to find Blume to slam home another game-tying goal with just a single second left on the clock to tie the game at 10-10.

The game would have a disappointing end for the Wolverines, however, as Carthage was awarded a five-meter penalty shot following a questionable penalty call on Grove City. Brittany Wallace would convert the golden goal to give the Lady Reds the 11-10 win.

Hinkle concluded a fantastic career for Grove City with five goals, two assists, eight steals and four drawn ejections while Blume added three goals and a pair of steals. Okray and Jank each added a goal and an assist while Parks recorded three assists. Jank also won all seven sprints in the game and added four steals. Frank recorded nine saves in goal.

Connecticut College defeated Washington and Jefferson, 13-10, in the championship match to claim its third-straight conference crown.

The Wolverines will lose Hinkle to graduation. The standout finishes her career as Grove City's all-time leader with 125 assists, second with 234 goals and third with 267 steals.

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