NESCAC Quarterfinal: No. 1 Middlebury 15, No. 8 Bates 2

Top-seeded Middlebury will host the remaining rounds of the NESCAC Women's Lacrosse Championship May 4-5

Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury scored the game's first 15 goals during its NESCAC Quarterfinal contest on Saturday, as the top-seeded Panthers eased past eighth-seeded Bates (8-8), 15-2. With the triumph, Panther head coach Kate Livesay earned her 200th career win. Livesay, who is in her fourth season at Middlebury, improved her career mark to 200-36 and 73-10 with the Panthers.

Middlebury (15-1) has won 15-straight games and will host next weekend's semifinals, taking on fourth-seeded Amherst Saturday at 12 p.m. Second-seeded Tufts and third-seeded Wesleyan will meet in the other semifinal at 3 p.m. The winners will battle on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the NESCAC Championship game.

The Panthers got off to a quick start, as Emma McDonagh tallied just over a minute into the game on a bouncing a shot from the left side. She doubled the lead on a left-handed attempt from five yards away, while Kirsten Murphy gave the hosts a 3-0 cushion scoring on a quick-stick shot as part of a free-position attempt on an assist from Jane Earley. McDonagh tacked on her third score on a drive from the right for a 4-0 lead just under two minutes later.

Bates had one of its better scoring chances with 13:08 left when Kathryn Grennon sent a bouncing shot toward Middlebury goalie Julia Keith on a free-position chance, but Keith stopped the attempt with her stick.

Ahead 4-0, Middlebury tacked on five more scores in a 4:09 span, including a pair from McDonagh. Earley scored on a nice move on her defender, while McDonagh attacked the cage from the right 33 seconds later for another Middlebury goal. Henley Hall and McDonagh added markers one minute apart, Madeline Riordan ripped a low shot from 10 feet away, while Murphy put the margin at double figures (10-0) just 10 seconds before the halftime break.

Following the intermission, Murphy scored twice on nifty assists from Emily Barnard and Jenna McNicholas for a 12-0 advantage, while Kate Zecca drove past her defender and Lily Riseberg scored on the doorstep, pushing the Panther lead to 14-0 with 13:00 remaining. Zecca found the back of the net on a free-position goal with an upper-right corner shot with 10:11 left.

Caroline Kerrigan got Bates on the scoreboard, bouncing a shot past goalie Kate Furber while in transition and down a player. The Bobcats recorded the final goal when Grennon scored an unsettled score with a bouncing shot on an assist by Jillian Futter for the final 15-2 score.

McDonagh led Middlebury with five goals, giving her 202 career points (150-52-202). Murphy also had a five-point game with four goals and an assist, while Zecca had two scores and Barnard recorded two assists. Addy Mitchell collected four ground balls, Alex White had three, while Sarah Weppler had four draw controls and Erica Barr secured three. Keith made 10 saves in 40:55 to earn the win, while Furber played the final 19:05.

Grennon and Kerrigan tallied the goals for the Bobcats, while Liv Sandford had three draw controls and Isabelle Paulus caused a pair of turnovers. In goal, Eliza Statile made 13 saves and scooped up a team-best four ground balls.

Middlebury held advantages in shots (37-15), draw controls (12-5) and ground balls (22-18). The Panther defense has held their opponents to single digits in goals 14 of the 16 games this spring, including each the last 11 contests. Middlebury also avenges its lone loss of the season with Saturday's win, as the Bobcats edged the Panthers 11-10 in overtime on March 2.