Women’s Lax Holds On Against Amherst, Forces Rematch With Colby

By Jake Turtel, Staff Writer

About a month ago, on April 1, the Middlebury women’s lacrosse team trounced Amherst 13-3. This ten-goal margin, however, would not be repeated in the first round of the NESCAC tournament. The top-seeded Panthers hosted the Mammoths at Kohn Field, looking to start their postseason title defense.

Amherst got on the board first with a goal less than five minutes into the game. Amherst goalie Kyra Gardner blocked a shot by Jenna McNicholas ’19, but ten seconds later Sara DiCenso ’19 evened the score with an assist by classmate Emma McDonagh ’19. The Mammoths responded with a tally of their own, giving Amherst a short-lived lead. After an Amherst save off of a Casey O’Neill ’19 shot, Bea Eppler ’17 finished with a goal.

At the start of the next possession, Mary O’Connell ’17 (NESCAC player of the week for May 1) controlled the draw. This led to two quick shots by O’Connell and McDonagh within two seconds of each other, both of which were saved by Gardner. At 18:50, however, O’Neill beat Gardner, giving Middlebury a 3-2 lead. About two minutes later, O’Connell was once again involved, scoring a transition goal on an assist by Hollis Perticone ’18. Two Amherst goals tied the game at four apiece, and for just over 13 minutes no team scored. With 1:33 remaining in the opening period, however, Eppler gave the panthers a 5-4 lead. With no more goals, that score held until the second half.

In the second period, Perticone controlled the draw. After a wide shot by DiCenso, Perticone notched her second assist of the day, passing to Eppler who gave the Panthers a two-goal lead. Four minutes later, O’Connell converted a free position opportunity into another point; Middlebury now led 7-4. Amherst, however, would not give up; they closed the gap to two before five consecutive Mammoth shots either missed wide or were saved by Kate Furber ’19. DiCenso, assisted by Perticone, gave Middlebury a three-goal lead once again, 8-5.

The Mammoths then scored twice within two minutes, threatening to ensue a comeback and give the Panthers an undesired early exit. With 22 seconds left and Middlebury only up by one, Furber made a clutch save, basically sealing the victory for the Panthers. Furber finished with a dozen saves, while Eppler finished with three goals and Perticone an equal number of assists.
Middlebury will move on to face Colby College this upcoming Saturday at noon, looking to push their home winning streak to 15 and avenge a regular season loss to the Mules.

Alex White ’19, who picked up two ground balls and caused two turnovers on defense, said, “over the past week, we’ve had really productive practices and have made some big strides in developing our team, so it’s anyone’s game! Colby is definitely a good team, but I think that we have the skill and desire to win, and continue on to the NESCAC championship game.”
White added that, “Any and all fans would be greatly appreciated, because a hyped up crowd can really make a difference.”

For O’Connell the game on Saturday will have extra meaning, as she understands that her career as a Panther is winding down.
“It’s definitely bittersweet as a senior because I want to cherish every moment with these girls and my fellow seniors, and for now we’ll take it day to day and enjoy every moment until the last,” O’Connell said, adding that “the team remains extremely confident [in Middlebury’s] ability to go far into post season.”
Talent, strong leadership and a will to win is a dangerous combination.

The start time for the semifinal matchup with Colby is set for 12 p.m. at Kohn Field this Saturday.