Panther women’s lacrosse takes league title, to host NCAAs

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team knocked off host and top seed Trinity in the NESCAC final on Sunday, 10-7, to win the program’s first league playoff crown since 2007. Trinity had won five straight titles.
The 17-1 Panthers also earned the NESCAC’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, the program’s 22nd, and will host tournament games on Saturday and Sunday.
Fairleigh Dickinson-Florham (13-6) and SUNY-Polytechnic Institute (13-3) will square off on Saturday, and the winner will meet the Panthers on Sunday. Game times will be at 1 p.m. both days.
A victory on Sunday would send the Panthers into a regional at a site to be determined, probably either Gettysburg or Middlebury. Their likely foe in the first round of a regional would be St. John Fisher (16-3). Gettysburg (16-2), Amherst (12-4) and York (12-6) are on the other side of the bracket.
Other top teams are SUNY-Cortland (18-0), Salisbury (16-2), and College of New Jersey (18-1). The tournament is arranged so that either Middlebury or Gettysburg could join those three teams in a final four.
On Sunday, after Middlebury and Trinity (15-3) traded early goals, the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to take an 8-1 halftime lead. Chrissy Ritter scored the tie-breaking goal; Hollis Perticone, who scored to open the game, added two more goals in the surge; and Mary O’Connell, Bridget Instrum, Megan Griffin and Alli Sciarretta tallied before the break, while Trinity managed just three shots in the final 25 minutes of the first half.
Trinity scored twice early in the second half to make it 8-3, and O’Connell scored at 22:19 for a 9-3 Panther edge. Trinity slowly worked back, making it 9-5 on goals by Clare Lyne and Martha Griffin, with Griffin’s coming with 12:01 to go.
Both teams committed turnovers down the stretch, and Instrum’s free-position goal to make it 10-5 at 6:50 loomed large. Griffin and Lyne added goals 50 seconds apart to make it 10-7 with 4:08 to go. After two turnovers apiece, the Panthers controlled for most of the final two minutes to run out the clock and claim the championship. Panther goalie Katie Mandigo made four saves, while Ritter controlled three draws. Two Bantam goalies combined for four saves.
In Saturday’s semifinal, also at Trinity, the Panthers breezed past third seed Amherst, 13-4, after taking a 9-0 lead at the half. Amherst had just two shots at the Panther goal in the first half, one hitting the post and one being stopped by Mandigo (five saves).
Sciarretta led Middlebury with four goals, Perticone netted three, and Emma McDonagh and Griffin each scored twice. O’Connell finished with a goal and five assists. Panther defender Evie Keating led all players with four ground balls and three caused turnovers. Amherst goalie Christy Forrest made four saves.

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