Macon, Ga. – An eight-goal first half gave the Paladins the push they needed, as Furman held off a late Central Michigan rally to down the No. 2-seeded Chippewas 13-10 on Thursday night and earn a spot in Saturday's SoCon Championship game. The win moves the Paladins to 8-10 on the season, while the loss ends CMU's season at 11-7.
Furman was led by Abby Shields, Isabelle Walsh and Meg Lingo with three goals each, while Lingo also added an assist for a team-high four points. Grace Pollak added two goals and assist, while Hannah Demis also registered two goals. Maggie Friel turned in seven saves on the evening, en route to earning the win.
The Chippewas opened a 1-0 lead in the game's first two minutes, but the Paladins responded with three-straight goals from Walsh, Pollak and Shields to take a 3-1 lead over the next five minutes of game time. The Chippewas cut the lead to 3-2 with 23:03 to go in the first half, but the Paladins again responded with three-straight goals, this time by Shields, Demis, and Lingo to push the lead to 6-2 with 14:35 remaining in the first. CMU notched back-to-back scores to cut the lead to 6-4 with just over 5:00 to go, but the Paladins used goals from Lingo and Walsh to take an 8-4 lead into halftime.
Furman opened the second half with goals by Walsh and Demis to open a 10-4 lead, the teams traded goals and the Paladins grabbed an 11-5 advantage with 14:40 remaining. The Chippewas mounted a furious rally, using a 5-1 run to cut the Furman lead to 12-10, but Shields completed her hat trick and put the game out of reach, giving Furman the 13-10 advantage with 4:10 to go. Thanks to two huge saves by Friel, Furman was able to hold the Chippewas off the board for the remainder of the game, earning their first trip to the conference title game.
Furman will face tournament-host and No. 4 seed Mercer in the SoCon Championship game on Saturday, after the Bears downs No. 1 seed Detroit Mercy, 18-17, on Thursday evening. Saturday's game is set to be streamed on ESPN+ and fans can find live stat and video links on FurmanPaladins.com.