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Panther women’s lacrosse advances to NCAA Final Four

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team emerged from an upset-filled section of the NCAA Division III bracket and will play this weekend in Philadelphia in the program’s 15th Final Four in what is longtime coach Missy Foote’s final season.
On Saturday at 1 p.m., the sixth-ranked, 16-3 Panthers will face No. 2 SUNY-Cortland (20-1). The other semifinal will pit No. 1 Trinity (20-1) vs. No. 3 Franklin & Marshall (20-2). Saturday’s winners will meet for the title on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Games may be seen at NCAA.com and be linked to through athletics.middlebury.edu.
In other program news, team members Katie Ritter, a senior and Middlebury resident, and junior Laurel Pascal, both midfielders, were named first-team All-Americans. Senior defender and draw specialist Catherine Fowler was named a second-team All-American.
To earn their trip to the Final Four, the Panthers won a Regional at Gettysburg this past weekend. On Sunday, Middlebury defeated No. 12 York, 10-8. York had upset host No. 5 Gettysburg, 8-7, the day before, in part because officials disallowed a tying goal in the final seconds.
On Saturday, the Panthers outscored NESCAC foe Hamilton, 18-10. No. 13 Hamilton had upset No. 8 Salisbury the weekend before, 9-8. Salisbury is the only team to have defeated Cortland this season.
Vs. York this past Sunday, Bridget Instrum scored a game-high four goals and added an assist to lead the Panthers. Mary O’Connell finished with three goals and one assist, and Fowler earned four draw controls as the Panthers held a 12-8 edge in that category. Maggie Caputi finished with a game-high five ground balls, and Cornwall’s Katie Mandigo was solid in goal with a career-best nine saves.
Middlebury scored first when Ritter took advantage of a turnover for her 39th of the season. York tied the game when Katelyn Cattrano scored on a free position at 18:23. The Spartans took their first lead on another free position goal, this one from Sarah Castle.
The Panthers tied the game following a restart, when Mary O’Connell set up Instrum, who bounced a shot past York goalie Rachel Donovan (seven saves) at 15:26. York regained the lead at the 14:25 when Jayme Verman found Cattrano open.
Then the Panthers took charge with a 5-0 run to take a 7-3 lead with 3:46 left in the half. O’Connell opened the surge, Instrum scored on a spin move, and Pascal drove down the middle and netted her team-leading 44th goal for a 5-3 lead at 11:24 mark. Those three goals came in a 2:04 span.
Hollis Perticone and O’Connell added scores to make it 7-3 at the half, during which Middlebury held a 14-9 shots advantage and an 8-3 advantage in draw controls.
York opened the second half with a goal from Verman, and Instrum made it an 8-4 game with 22:38 remaining. O’Connell scored her third about three minutes later on a free position. Verman kept the Spartans in the game with 17:51 left to play, cutting the lead with 9-5. Allison Kolacy earned her second-straight assist at 9:40, freeing Kelly Curran for a goal to cut the lead to 9-6.
Middlebury maintained possession for several minutes, and pushed the lead to 10-6 with 3:22 remaining when Instrum netted a feed from Megan Griffin. York tacked on two late goals. 
On Saturday, the Panthers took an 8-1 lead and never allowed Hamilton (12-6) to come closer than four goals in a game twice delayed by lightning.
O’Connell led the team with four goals, while Katie Ritter scored three with three assists. Instrum added three goals and an assist, Pascal netted a pair with two helpers, while Perticone ended the day with two goals and one assist. Also scoring were Alli Sciarretta, Griffin, Bea Eppler and Hailey Cosseboom. Fowler earned a game-high seven draws, while Pascal won four. Chrissy Ritter and Delaina Smith each caused a pair of turnovers, while Mandigo finished with five saves.

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