Courtesy Trinity Sports Information
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Trinity College Bantams opened up a 7-2 lead early and withstood a valiant second-half comeback effort by the visiting Tufts University Jumbos, to win, 13-12, in the semifinal round of the 2011 NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship this afternoon on Sheppard Field. Trinity improves to a best-ever 16-0, breaking last year’s (15-4) win-total record for the most in program history.
Top-seeded Trinity will host the No. 3-seeded Colby College Mules, who won, 14-7, against the No. 2-seeded Bowdoin College Polar Bears in today's other semifinal game on Sheppard Field, in the NESCAC Championship tomorrow at noon. The Bantams and Mules played each other in the 2008 NESCAC final at Middlebury won by Colby, 14-12. The winner of tomorrow's final will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Tufts falls to 11-6.
Senior co-captain attacker Rachel Romanowsky (Hampstead,N.H.) assisted on three goals and scored a fourth, while sophomore midfielder Megan Leonhard (Summit, N.J.) tallied three times to highlight Trinity's 7-2 run over the game's first 17:35. Tufts junior midfielder stopped a 4-0 mini-run by the Bantams with a goal from classmate Laura Kozin (Suffern, N.Y.) to make the score, 7-3, at the 11:58 mark of the first. After Romanowsky fed rookie attacker Shea Kusiak (Longmeadow, Mass.) on the second of her two goals in the game, first-year attacker Gabby Horner (Allentown, N.J.) and Kozin added back-to-back Jumbo goals to end the first half and start the second, prompting Trinity to switch junior Gina Dinallo (West Hartford, Conn.) into net for sophomore Olivia Whitney (Danvers, Mass.) despite an 8-5 lead.
The teams traded goals before the game was halted twice for a total of 80 minutes due to lightning, and Trinity sophomore attacker Kaitlin Hildebrand (Berwyn, Pa.) converted on Romanowsky's fifth helper of the game, and Leonhard scored on a free position after play resumed to push the Bantam lead back up to 11-6 at the 22:38 mark. Tufts came roaring back over the next 10 minutes with four unanswered goals, including the first and last of the spurt by sophomore attacker Kerry Eaton (Norfolk, Mass.). Eaton's second, which pulled the Jumbos to within one at 11-10, came courtesy of rookie Eliza Halmo (Brunswick, Maine) on a quick pass out of a free-position opportunity with 10:47 left on the clock.
Trinity sophomore attacker Hadley Duncan (Rye, N.Y.) finally stopped the bleeding with a free-position goal, whipping the ball from the left side past Tufts sophomore goalie Tess Shapanka (Sudbury, Mass.) who had held Trinity to three goals and made eight saves since entering the game in relief of senior Sara Bloom (Summit, N.J.) late in the first half, with 9:43 remaining. Trinity took possession of the ball with just over seven minutes left to play and held it for nearly five full minutes before Hildebrand scored into an empty net from Leonhard to up the Bantam lead to 13-10 with 2:51 left. Tufts did not go away, winning the ensuing draw and receiving quick, back-to-back goals on a wrap-around the net by Eaton and hard shot from the right side by junior attacker Stephanie Perez (East Providence, R.I.). Clinging to a 13-12 lead with 1:47 left, Hildebrand secured the draw after Perez' goal, and the Bantams kept the ball until the final horn.
Romanowsky totaled a goal and a game-high five assists, while Leonhard notched four goals, one assist, six ground balls, seven draw controls, and four caused turnovers, and Hildebrand scored four times. Kozin recorded two goals and four assists, while Eaton scored four times, and Horner scored three times for the Jumbos. Whitney and Dinallo combined for eight saves for Trinity, and Bloom and Shapanka had 10 stops as a tandem for Tufts.