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Women’s lax grounds Cardinals, climbs to No. 2 in NCAA Division III

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team cruised to a 13-1 NESCAC victory over visiting Wesleyan Saturday to improve to 13-1. The Panthers (5-0 overall, 3-0 NESCAC) moved up to No. 2 from No. 4 in the NCAA Division III rankings after No. 2 TCNJ and No. 3 Trinity both suffered their first losses last week. Defending champ Gettysburg (5-0) remained No. 1. The Panthers host No. 20 Bowdoin this coming Saturday at noon.
Wesleyan (4-1, 2-1 NESCAC) entered this past Saturday’s game ranked No. 18 and were coming off an upset at TCNJ, but the Panthers scored seven times in the first 16:14 on the way to a 10-0 halftime lead.
Emma McDonagh scored 18 seconds after the opening draw, and she and Casey O’Neill each cashed in on free-position shots minutes later for a 3-0 edge at 22:07.
Kirsten Murphy factored in on the next three goals for Middlebury, scoring once and assisting on tallies by Georgia Carroll and Emily Barnard. McDonagh converted a free-position at 13:46 to make it 7-0 before Panther goalie Julia Keith made her toughest save of the opening half at 12:38 — Keith thwarted a low Abigail Horst free position bid.
Carroll hit the upper-right corner on free position to make it 8-0, and Middlebury closed out the opening 30 minutes with late scores on high shots from Jenna McNicholas and Barnard.
In the second frame, McDonagh made it 11-0 off a feed from Carroll. The Cardinals broke though for their lone score with 21:14 left, when Abby Manning scored off a free position while Wesleyan had a one-player advantage.
The Panthers added two more goals in the final 20 minutes from O’Neill and Kate Zecca.
McDonagh paced the Panthers with four goals, while Murphy recorded a one goal and three assists. Barnard, Carroll and O’Neill scored. Defender Evie Keating finished with game-high six caused turnovers and four ground balls, while midfielder Hollis Perticone controlled five draws. Keith made four saves, while Cardinal goalie Allegra Grant finished with 10 saves.
Middlebury held a 27-10 edge in shots. The Panther defense, which entered the game ranked fourth nationally, held an opponent to three goals or fewer for the fourth straight time after allowing five in an opening win at Bates. Middlebury has yielded only 14 goals through five games.

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