Women’s lacrosse coasts, will host NCAA regional

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team as expected coasted through its first NCAA Division III tournament game on Sunday, dismissing visiting Johnson & Wales, 22-3.
The competition should pick up this weekend, when the 18-1 Panthers host a four-team regional. The regional winner advances to the NCAA final four in Ashland, Va., on May 25 and 26. The Panthers most recently won the 2016 NCAA title and reached the final a year ago.
Also hosting regionals this weekend and favored to advance to Ashland are NESCAC runner-up Tufts (17-2, with both losses by one goal to Middlebury), Salisbury (17-3) and Gettysburg (24-1). The Panthers defeated Salisbury, 11-6, this spring, but did not face Gettysburg, the defending NCAA champion.
The Panthers will open regional play on Saturday at 11:30 p.m. vs. NESCAC foe Bowdoin (10-7), while Illinois-Wesleyan (18-2) and Franklin & Marshall (15-4) will follow on Kohn Field at 2:30 p.m. The winners will play on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission will be charged at the games.
The Panthers won a shootout at Bowdoin on March 23, 21-18. Since then they have not allowed an opponent to score more than nine goals in a game, a streak of 14 outings. Middlebury changed its defense from man-to-man to a zone with a backer in the middle during the course of the Bowdoin game, with mixed results during the contest but impressive outcomes since. Middlebury did not face the other two teams in this weekend’s regional during the spring.
The Panthers have used a balanced attack led by senior Emma McDonagh (50 goals, 16 assists), Emily Barnard (38G, 15A) and Jane Earley (37G, 14A). Midfielders Erin Nicholas, Erica Barr and senior Casey O’Neill have helped the Panthers win a majority of draws.
 Addy Mitchell anchors the zone as the backer and leads the team in forcing turnovers (42), and seniors Susanna Baker and Alex White and Emma White have all forced at least 17. Goalie Julia Keith stops 51.8 percent of the shots she faces.
Keith and second-half goalie Kate Furber didn’t face many shots on Sunday and combined for seven stops. Meanwhile, 10 Panthers put balls in the net behind beleaguered Johnson & Wales goalie Cassidy O’Hara, who made nine saves for the Wildcats.
The teams traded early goals before the Panthers scored 16 straight to lead at the half, 17-1. Coach Kate Livesay substituted freely.
For Middlebury Lily Riseberg finished with a career-high five goals, plus an assist; Kate Zecca picked up four goals and an assist; and Hope Robertson contributed her first collegiate hat trick. Nicholas controlled a game-high five draws, while Emma White scooped three ground balls. Dani Lydecker scored twice for J&W, but the Panther defense kept Allison Pazienski off the scoreboard after she entered the game with with 105 goals this season.

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