NESCAC Semifinal: No. 4 Colby 10, No. 1 Middlebury 9

NESCAC Semifinal: No. 4 Colby 10, No. 1 Middlebury 9

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY, Vermont – Colby's Sasha Fritts scored with 2:18 left in the second half during Saturday's NESCAC Semifinal, propelling fourth-seeded Colby into Sunday's championship game with a 10-9 victory over top-seeded Middlebury on Kohn Field. The Mules (14-3) will take on the winner of the second semifinal between second-seeded Trinity and third-seeded Hamilton in the title game Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Middlebury falls to 13-4 with the loss and will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In the opening half, goals from Kendall Smith via a pass from Emilie Klein and a free-position score by Lexie Perticone put the Mules ahead 2-0 with just under six minutes elapsed. The Panthers netted back-to-back free-position tallies by Sara DiCenso on an extra-player opportunity and Bea Eppler with a shot into the upper-left corner, tying the score at 2-2 with 19:55 remaining.

The Mules rattled off four consecutive goals over a span of 10:12, with two from Lexie Perticone sandwiched around a pair of tallies by Smith, for a 6-2 advantage with 7:40 left. Middlebury fought back with goals by Hollis Perticone, Eppler and a player-down tally Casey O'Neill over the next five minutes of play, cutting the Colby lead to 6-5 headed into halftime.

Out of the intermission, Fritts gave the Mules a two-goal lead just over six minutes into the half on a bouncing shot. The Panthers put together a 4-1 run with four different players finding the back of the net during a span of nearly 13 minutes, for a 9-8 lead with just under 10 minutes left in regulation.  

Colby tied the contest when Klein tucked a shot under the crossbar and over the shoulder of Middlebury goalie Kate Furber on a free-position attempt with 6:24 left. Fritts gave the Mules the lead for good on a free-position score that bounced just under the stick of Furber for a 10-9 lead. The Panthers had two opportunities in the final 1:20 to tie the contest, but shots by DiCenso and a chance from Eppler on a free-position attempt both hit the post and bounded away, giving the Mules the one-goal win.

Eppler led the Panthers with three goals, while Mary O'Connell tacked on a goal and a game-best three assists. Hollis Perticone finished with a goal, three ground balls and a pair of draw controls. Alex White had three caused turnovers and scooped up a pair of ground balls for the Panther defense, while Furber finished with a dozen saves as well as four ground balls.

Smith paced the Mules with four goals, while Lexie Perticone had five points on three scores and two assists. Fritts finished with two goals, including the game winner for Colby. Maddie Hatch tallied a game-high six draw controls, while Georgia Lubrano had a pair of caused turnovers. Izzy Scribano made two saves in goal for the Mules to go along with a team-high three ground balls.

Colby held an edge in both shots (24-20) and ground balls (15-11) for the contest. The Mules were 4-8 on free-position attempts, while the Panthers were 3-7.