The Middlebury women’s lacrosse team continued its early-season success on Saturday, March 15, winning its home opener over Wesleyan by a score of 10-4.
After a scoreless first 12 minutes of the game, Liza Herzog ’14 broke the tie with a goal off of a free position shot. Wesleyan quickly struck back 12 seconds later off of an unassisted goal from Caitlin Daniels to tie the game up at 1-1.
After another respite in scoring action, Middlebury’s Laurel Pascal ’16 was finally able to finish an opportunity off of a pass from Herzog. This spark was followed by Middlebury goals from Alli Sciarretta ’16 with a free position shot and Mary O’Connell ’17 off of a pass from Bridget Instrum ’16.
Middlebury’s goals were quickly answered however off of a pair of goals from Wesleyan’s Meredith Smith to finish the half with a score of 4-3. With the momentum in its favor, Wesleyan came out firing and tied up the game at 4-4 off of another goal from Smith three minutes into the second half.
Tough defense, however, and key saves between the pipes from co-Captain Alyssa Palomba ’14 allowed the Panthers to withstand the Wesleyan offensive and turn the tide of the game in their favor with another goal from Pascal with 17 minutes left in the game. Pascal was able to follow that score up with two more finishes for the Panthers – one unassisted and one assisted by Katie Ritter ’15 – to put the Panthers up 7-4.
After Pascal’s goal, the Panthers kept the gas on the pedal and never looked back. Middlebury was able to keep the pressure on the Cardinals with two goals from Herzog and a goal from O’Connell, all of which were unassisted. By the final whistle, the Panthers had extended the lead to the final tally of 10-4.
“This week we really focused on our transitions and playing as a unit on attack, which we were able to translate to our game on Saturday,” Pascal said. “Everyone was making smart decisions all over the field and we were able to find the holes in their defense, which was awesome.”
Middlebury was paced on the offensive end by Pascal, who finished with four goals. Herzog finished with three goals and an assist, and first-year standout O’Connell added a pair of goals. Palomba finished the day in net with a 42.8 save percentage, recording three saves during the game.
Smith led the Cardinals with three goals. Wesleyan goalkeeper Nina Labovich helped keep the score relatively close by stopping 10 of the 20 shots on goal throughout the game.
Middlebury’s dominant offensive performance was representative on the stats sheet, as the Panthers outshot the Cardinals 26-13. Middlebury also held a slight advantage in ground balls and controlled 11 of 16 draws for the afternoon.
Middlebury returned to action on Tuesday, March 18, for a midweek matchup with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, defeating the host Engineers 11-8.
After RPI got on the scoreboard first, Middlebury responded with a pair of goals from Chrissy Ritter ’16 to take the lead. The Engineers then went on a four-goal scoring run to take a 4-3 lead midway through the first half, before a trio of Panther goals, including two from Pascal, put Middlebury in front going into the half.
In the second half, the Panthers used a flurry of scoring to extend their lead, ultimately going on to win.
Pascal led the Panthers with three goals in the game, with Katie Ritter, Chrissy Ritter and Herzog each adding two for Middlebury.
With the win over Rensselaer, Middlebury extends its record to 4-0 on the season, including a trio of conference wins. The Panthers return to the pitch on Saturday, March 22, for a conference matchup with Bowdoin. The Polar Bears are owners of a 3-2 record and should provide stiff competition for Middlebury.
Following that, the Panthers will travel to West Palm Beach, Fla. over Spring Break for a game against Rochester Institute of Technology before returning to face the remainder of their NESCAC schedule.