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The Middlebury Campus

Women’s Lacrosse Breezes Past Cardinals; Undefeated in NESCAC

By Christine Urquhart

The Middlebury women’s lacrosse team continued its early-season success on Saturday, March 19 winning its home opener over Wesleyan. The team scored six goals within the first nine minutes of the game and never looked back as the Panthers drubbed the Wesleyan Cardinals by a score of 13-5.

Middlebury established control of the game right out of the gates as senior co-captain Alli Sciarretta ’16 tallied two goals within the first 2:37 of the first half to give the Panthers an early 2-0 advantage. Claire Russell ’18 followed with a beautiful finish off a feed from Chrissy Ritter ’16. The Panthers maintained momentum and mounted a scoring streak as the first hard continued.

Bea Eppler ’17 found the back of the net 41 seconds later followed by Bridget Instrum ’16 to make it a 5-0 game. The scoring did not stop there as the Panthers took a 9-1 lead into the half thanks to a pair of goals from both Sciarretta and Ritter.

Wesleyan ended the shutout with 1:07 left in the half on a goal from Martha Harding. Defensively, the Panthers dominated the half allowing only three shots on goal the entire half. The half ended with a score of 9-1 in favor of Middlebury.

The impregnable defense can be attributed to the “confidence in [the team’s] goalies as well as their confidence in each other, which has allowed the team to play with a lot of intensity and take some risks that [they] may not take otherwise,” Maggie Caputi ’16 said.

The Panthers came out strong to start the second half with a 3-0 run. Ritter got the scoring going with a goal 1:19 into the second half while the Cardinals were down a player.  Megan Griffin ’16 set up the next two goals, with her first assist going to Eppler and the second to Russell to establish a 12-1 lead with 16:10 remaining.

Middlebury’s run ended with 15:33 left in the contest with a goal from Wesleyan.  Unfortunately, the Cardinals were able to finally break through the defensive wall and score two more goals, resulting in a score of 12-4 with 6:06 left in the contest.

Jenna McNicholas ’19 responded for the Panthers, tallying her first career goal with 1:17 left in the second half to conclude the Panther scoring effort on the day.

Caputi was at the helm of the defense throughout the contest, causing four turnovers and scooping six ground balls.  Hollis Perticone ’18 contributed to the win by recording a team-high four draw controls.

Tough defense and key saves between the pipes from Madeleine Kinker ’16 and Kate Furber ’19 allowed the Panthers to cruise to the eventual 13-5 win over Wesleyan.

“The success of any defensive unit is dependent on the strength of the goalie, and [Kinker and Furber] have been extremely effective and integral to our wins,” Caputi stated.

Middlebury’s dominant offensive performance was reflected in shots, with the Panthers outshooting the Cardinals by a 29-11 margin. Middlebury also held a slight advantage in ground balls, scooping 25 compared to Wesleyan’s 23. The Panthers were strong from the faceoff-X, controlling 13-7 draws on the afternoon.

Fourth-ranked Middlebury (5-0, 3-0) will return to action Saturday, March 26, when they host Bowdoin at 12 p.m. The Panthers beat Bowdoin 14-8 in regular season play last year before experiencing a tough 14-8 loss to the Polar Bears in the NESCAC semifinal matchup.

“The team is excited for Bowdoin this weekend,” Eppler said. “[We look] forward to working hard this week in preparation for Bowdoin. This game is going to be competitive and will test [the team] in new ways which will allow us to gain a better understanding of where we stand in the NESCAC.”

Following that, the Panthers will travel to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, March 29 to play a non-conference game against Dickinson. The team will then travel to Maryland, where they will face Stevenson in another non-conference matchup.

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