Panther women’s lax defeated in NCAA quarter final

EWING, N.J. — The College of New Jersey on Sunday defeated the Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team, 8-4, in an NCAA Division I quarterfinal.
Top-ranked TCNJ, which hosted the game, improved to 18-1 and avenged its only loss of the season, 6-4 in March to the Panthers. The Lions have allowed an NCAA-best 3.18 goals per game this season, and nobody scored more against them than Middlebury.
Defending champion and No. 8 Middlebury’s tournament run ended after three wins and a 16-5 record. The Panthers graduated seven seniors from their 2016 championship team and lost two more starters and three more team members to season-ending injuries this season.
Early in Sunday’s game both teams excelled defensively and Middlebury goalie Kate Furber (seven saves) stopped Lions Erin Harvey and Mia Blackman.
The Lions took a 4-0 lead into the half, with Blackman scoring twice. Middlebury’s best chance to break onto the scoreboard in the opening half came when Lion goalie Miranda Chrone (seven saves) denied Mary O’Connell’s free-position shot.
Amanda Muller netted back-to-back goals for the Lions to start the second half. The Panthers got on the board when Delaina Smith ran the length of the field in transition and fed Bea Eppler, who tallied at 23:22 left. That score ended TCNJ’s streak of not allowing a goal at 100:53 of NCAA tournament play. Middlebury’s Emma McDonagh scored less than two minutes later to make it 6-2 contest.
At 18:23 O’Connell circled the cage and bounced a shot into the upper-right corner to make it 6-3, but goals by Kristen Harvey and Blackman pushed TCNJ’s lead to 8-3. Middlebury’s Susanna Baker added a goal in the closing seconds.
Baker and Evie Keating each scooped up four ground balls. O’Connell finished her Middlebury career third all-time in points (244) and assists (111).
Middlebury had the edge in ground balls (18-17), but TCNJ had the advantage in shots (20-13) and draw controls (9-4).
The Panthers reached the quarterfinal by defeating No. 19 Brockport on Saturday, 14-7. The Panthers rolled to a 10-1 halftime lead and allowed Brockport (16-3) to come no closer than six goals in the second half.
O’Connell led all players with four goals and an assist. Eppler chipped in with three goals, and Hollis Perticone scored twice and set up two others to go along with five draw controls. McDonagh collected a team-high four ground balls and caused two turnovers, and Furber made six saves. Brockport goalie Sara Shaddock stopped 11 shots.

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