NESCAC Semifinal: No. 1 Middlebury 16, No. 6 Trinity 13

NESCAC Semifinal: No. 1 Middlebury 16, No. 6 Trinity 13

Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The Middlebury women's lacrosse team scored six of the game's final seven goals to advance to the NESCAC Championship game after a 16-13 win over sixth-seeded Trinity Saturday on Kohn Field. The top-seeded and sixth-ranked Panthers (15-2) will take on fourth-seeded Bowdoin in the title game Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Ninth-ranked Trinity fell to 11-6 with the loss and will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The hosts got off to a fast start, scoring three times in the initial 1:24 of play. Hollis Perticone made it 1-0 just 36 seconds into the contest and 18 seconds later Erin Nicholas drove to the cage for a score to double the lead. Emma McDonagh made it 3-0 for the Panthers, cashing in on a free-position attempt.

Trinity's Kiley Coffey scored three of the game's next four goals, with Casey O'Neill getting on the scoreboard as Middlebury held a 4-3 advantage. Jenna McNicholas gave the Panthers a 5-3 edge with 17:00 showing on the clock, but the Bantams reeled off three-straight goals for their first lead of the contest at 6-5. Coffey started that modest run on a free-position shot, while Abby McInerney set up Grace O'Donnell for a goal and then scored herself cutting to the net.

The Panthers jumped back in front 7-6, as Grace Getman converted in transition and McDonagh scored on a diving attempt at the edge of the crease with 8:09 left in the opening frame. McInerney and Georgia Mergner each tallied from the eight-meter arc, giving the visitors an 8-7 lead at the half.

The Bantams scored twice in a span of 29 seconds early in the second stanza, pushing the difference to 10-7. After Middlebury's Georgia Carroll and Trinity's Grace O'Donnell traded goals, the hosts closed to within a one at 12-11. Sara DiCenso made a nice move to the net for the first tally and Kirsten Murphy set up McNicholas on a cross-crease pass with 16:36 remaining.

Coffey pushed the lead back two (12-10) just 12 seconds later after winning the draw control, but the Panthers vaulted back into the lead with four-consecutive goals in a span of six minutes. Kate Zecca got the run started in transition with an assist from Carroll, while O'Neill tied the contest at 12-12. Murphy gave the hosts their first lead since the opening frame, cutting the crease and slipping a shot through Bantam goalie Zoe Ferguson. O'Neill made it a two-goal cushion, taking advantage of a free-position attempt.

Allie Barrett closed the gap to one (14-13), scoring while falling to the ground, but McDonagh tallied twice in a span of 57 seconds for the hosts to close out the scoring.

McDonagh led a balanced Panther offense with four goals, while O'Neill added three. In all, 10 different Middlebury players scored. Perticone hauled in nine draw controls, while Nicholas had a team-best four ground balls. Julia Keith made three saves in the opening half and Kate Furber had one in the final 30 minutes.  

Coffey led all players with five goals and added five draw controls, while Barrett scored twice and dished out three assists. Jen Durocher led the Bantams with four ground balls and two caused turnovers, while Ferguson finished with 18 saves.

Middlebury owned a 39-23 edge in shots and 19-12 in draw controls.