Danville, Ky. -- For most of the 2019 season, University of Lynchburg's field hockey team has had trouble cashing in on penalty corners.
But it Wednesday's first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, the 16th-ranked Hornets did it twice, and it was the difference that allowed Lynchburg to advance.
The Hornets overcame an early deficit to down No. 12 Centre, 2-1, on the road in their national-tournament opener.
"I think now that we've worked on [corners] so much," Lynchburg junior Alexis Brown diagnosed, "that's helped us a lot."
The opportunities helped Lynchburg even out a statistically uneven contest -- Centre out-shot the Hornets, 12-6.
Centre (18-1) began the game with immediate pressure, and the Colonels fished out an early goal when Sarah Biggs put a rebounded shot into the cage in the sixth minute.
Lynchburg (19-3) rebounded with a barrage of its own and earned its first corner 9:24 into the contest. The Hornets capitalized as Emma Strouse's input found Brown, who executed a quick shove to Emily Dudley. The junior sent a hard shot past the CC defense to even the score.
Centre held the advantage most of the remainder of the first half, but junior goalkeeper Laurel Nicks kept the Colonels off the board, accruing four of her seven saves before the break.
Romero, the Hornets' standout freshman, said it took her some time to get settled into her first-career NCAA tournament game.
"I felt a lot of pressure in the beginning," she said. "As soon as those nerves shook off, it was more excitement."
That control manifest in four penalty corners earned in the period, but Lynchburg didn't break through again until early in the fourth; in the 46th minute, the Hornets earned a quick corner opportunity, and with the goalkeeper out in front of the cage, a Lynchburg shot hit the defender's foot, forcing a penalty stroke.
Junior Jackie Lerro calmly finished the stroke to give the Hornets the lead, and while Centre took five shots to Lynchburg's two in the fourth quarter, the visitors held composure the rest of the way.
"I think it took a little bit of time for us to get adjusted," Steele said, "but after the first quarter, we just started to get stronger and stronger."
Lynchburg's field hockey program improves to 4-2 all-time against Centre, and Wednesday's victory broke a two-game losing skid against the Colonels, both of which were losses in the NCAA tournament.
The Hornets will head to Salisbury, Md., for the weekend's competition, beginning with a Saturday 2 p.m. contest against No. 8 Rowan. The winner of that game will advance to Sunday's national quarterfinal, where it will take on the winner of No. 3 Salisbury and FDU-Florham.