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Panther women’s lacrosse to hose NCAAs this weekend

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team came up short in its quest to repeat as NESCAC champions this past weekend, when Colby defeated the Panthers on Saturday, 10-9, in a semifinal.
Middlebury still has a chance to earn its second-straight NCAA Division III title, but to do so the Panthers will have to defeat Colby — which bested Trinity this past Sunday for the NESCAC crown — for the first time in three tries this season.
And Middlebury (13-4) will first have to get past Plymouth State (11-3) on Saturday at home at 1 p.m. If the Panthers clear that hurdle, they will take on the Mules on Sunday at 1 p.m. — on Middlebury’s Kohn Field. (Tickets for the games will be $6 each.) Colby also defeated the Panthers in Maine, 9-6, late in the regular season.
Should the Panthers get past Colby in a second-round match, they would head to a Regional almost certain to be hosted by No. 1 The College of New Jersey (15-1). Middlebury is the only team to defeat TCNJ this spring, 6-4, on the road. The Panthers would have to top either Denison (15-3) or Brockport (15-2) in a Regional semifinal on May 20 before in all likelihood meeting TCNJ for a berth in the final four in Salem, Va., on May 27 and 28.
In the NESCAC semifinal this past Saturday, the Panthers rallied from a 6-2 first-half deficit to take a 9-8 lead with 9:59 to go.
But the Mules tightened up on defense — and got help from Panther turnovers and then the crossbar twice in the final minutes — to keep Middlebury scoreless the rest of the way. And they got goals from Emily Klein and Sasha Fritts, the latter coming on a free position, for the win.
After Fritts scored, Panthers Sara Dicenso and Bea Eppler both hit pipes in the final 1:20 as the Mules hung on.
The Mules built their 6-2 lead in the game’s first 22:20, but goals by Panthers Hollis Perticone, Eppler and Casey O’Neill over the next five minutes of play cut the Colby lead to 6-5 headed into halftime.
Fritts gave the Mules a two-goal lead just over six minutes into the second half. Goals by Eppler, M.G. Gately, Mary O’Connell and finally Jenna McNicholas at 9:59 came in a 4-1 run that gave the Panthers their short-lived 9-8 lead.  
Eppler led the Panthers with three goals, Mary O’Connell tacked on a goal and a game-best three assists. On defense, Alex White caused three turnovers, while goalie Kate Furber finished with a dozen saves, including several clutch stops in the second half, as well as four ground balls.
Kendall Smith paced the Mules with four goals, while Lexie Perticone (big sister to Panther Hollis Perticone) recorded three scores and two assists. Colby goalie Izzy Scribano made two saves. Colby held edges in both shots (24-20) and ground balls (15-11). 
Meanwhile, the league announced that Panther junior Hollis Perticone was selected as the NESCAC Player of the Year, becoming the sixth player in the program’s history to garner the honor and the first since Kim Walker in 2007. 

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