MIDDLEBURY — Visiting Colby upset the Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team on Saturday, 14-11, putting the Panthers’ chances of hosting a first-round NESCAC playoff game this weekend in jeopardy.
The Panthers, losers of three of their past four games, dropped to 10-4, 6-3 in NESCAC play, good for fourth place, a game ahead of fifth-place Colby (7-5, 5-4).
Both teams were set to wrap up their regular seasons on Wednesday, after the print deadline for the Independent Sports section. The Panthers had to visit third-place Williams, which entered that contest at 12-2 overall, 7-2 in league play. If Middlebury defeated Williams, they will host a quarterfinal on Saturday. If the Panthers fell, results elsewhere will determine whether they will host or not, with a coin flip one possibility.
On this past Saturday, Colby’s defense proved critical: The Mules forced 17 Panther turnovers and limited Middlebury — which was playing without ailing sophomore midfielder Chrissy Ritter — to six successful clears in 14 attempts. Although Middlebury held a 17-10 edge in draw controls, the Mules also won 15 of 21 ground balls.
The Panthers took an early 3-1 lead, but needed two late first-half goals to pull to within one at the break, 9-8. They then scored twice in the first 4:37 of the second half to lead, 10-9. Liza Herzog cut around the cage and scored, and Katie Ritter converted a free position to give the Panthers the lead.
But Colby answered with a decisive 5-0 run over the next 11:27 to take a 14-10 lead with 9:37 remaining. At 8:16, Alli Sciarretta scored on a pass from Ritter to make it 14-11, but Colby controlled most of the possession for the remainder of the game.
Griffin paced Middlebury with three goals, while Herzog, Ritter, Laurel Pascal and Sciarretta had two apiece. Herzog and Catherine Fowler each had five draw controls in the contest. In goal for Middlebury, Alyssa Palomba played the first 18:07 without recording a stop, while Katie Mandigo made a pair of saves in 41:43; each allowed seven goals. Two Colby goalies each made three saves in 30 minutes of action.