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Women’s Lacrosse Closes Conference Play with Colby Loss

By JAKE TURTEL

The women’s lacrosse team just can’t get over the hump against Colby. The Panthers lost their first matchup when they travelled to Waterville, Maine, on April 22 by a score of 9-6. This past Saturday, May 6, despite homefield advantage in the NESCAC tournament, the Panthers fell to Colby 10-9 again in the semifinals at Kohn Field.

Colby scored the first two goals before Sara DiCenso ’19 brought the game to within one on a free-position opportunity with 21:48 remaining in the first half for her 11th goal of the season. Less than two minutes later, Bea Eppler ’17 tallied another free-position opportunity for her 17th on the year.

Soon after, though, Colby started to take control of the game. They scored the next four goals of the game. Hollis Perticone ’18, who led the NESCAC with 68 draw controls and was just named the NESCAC Player of the Year on May 4, put a stop the the Mules’ ferocious run when she found the back of the net for the 30th time this season.

Two minutes later, Eppler tallied number two on the day, bringing the Panthers to within two. After an Alex White ’19 foul, the Panthers were in a man-down position. Even at a disadvantage they were able to bring the game even closer, as Mary O’Connell ’17 assisted a Casey O’Neill ’19 goal with 2:03 left in the first period.

The Mules threatened to extend their lead to two, but Kate Furber ’19, a NESCAC Second-Team selection after being a mainstay in goal for the Panthers, made a save.

However, Colby took a 6-5 lead into the intermission period.

Jessie Yorke ’17 says the team talked about “confidence and trusting each other” during the intermission period. To win, the team had to play loose.

Colby opened the second half scoring when Sasha Fritts netted her 40th goal of the season. Eppler quickly answered, with an assist by MG Gately ’20. With the Panthers still down by one, O’Connell – who was named to the All-NESCAC First Team after leading the Panthers in points with 55 and assists with 22 and being second on the team in goals with 33 — scored her 34th of the year to tie things up.

After a Colby goal put the Mules on top once again, Gately tallied her fifth of the season. The Panthers retook the lead five minutes later when Jenna McNicholas ’19 put her 18th goal of the season in the back of the net, again assisted by O’Connell. Middlebury now had their first lead of the game.

This advantage was short-lived, however. Colby scored the next two goals, putting them up 10-9. With just over two minutes remaining, the Panthers needed a score to force overtime or two to clinch the victory.

In the final minute of play, the Panthers had opportunities to score but came up short. DiCenso and Eppler both had shots that hit the post. With 30 seconds left, Colby’s clear attempt failed when Delaina Smith ’17, another NESCAC First Teamer with her 27 takeaways, second in the NESCAC, added to her total with a stick check.

The Panthers retained possession and had one last opportunity, but O’Connell’s shot was saved by the Colby goalkeeper as the clock struck triple zeroes.

Evie Keating ’18, who was named all-NESCAC Second Team after ranking ninth in the league with 32 ground balls and second on the Panthers with 19 caused turnovers, talked about how the team’s seniors have inspired their teammates.
“[They] have been an inspiration to their teammates and coaches and have led a very young team to some pretty amazing wins and to a promising position for the NCAA tournament,” Keating said. “Even after Saturday’s loss, I have high hopes for our chances in the coming weeks thanks to the leadership from our seniors and the big roles underclassmen are stepping into.”

Perticone said much of the same.

“We have a lot of young talent on our team so this past weekend was a good experience to feel the jitters and pressure of tournament games,” Perticone said.

The Panthers season is not over, however. Middlebury will play at least one game in the upcoming NCAA tournament when they take on Plymouth State on May 13. In the event of a victory, they will force a rematch with Colby.

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