Women’s Lacrosse Rises to No. 2

On a Cold March Day, Middlebury’s Goal Total Almost Equaled the Temperature as the Panthers Cruised Past Wesleyan

By HEATHER BOEHM

Despite the Vermont cold front, with temperatures hovering in the teens all weekend, the women’s lacrosse team extended its winning streak to five games. The Panthers easily toppled Wesleyan with a dominant 13–1 win on Saturday, March 17, to move to 5–0 on the season and 3–0 in the Nescac.

To completely annihilate No. 12 Wesleyan — who entered Saturday’s matchup looking like a top Nescac competitor after defeating previously-ranked No. 2 TCNJ on Wednesday, March 14 — like Middlebury did took a complete team effort.

Seven Panthers scored on Saturday, as Middlebury outshot Wesleyan 27–5, with the defense doing their job in limiting Cardinal shot attempts. Evie Keating led the defense on her way to Nescac Player of the Week, which she garnered for forcing six turnovers and collecting four ground balls on Saturday.

You could tell the Panthers felt comfortable on their home turf, as they earned a spot on the scoreboard just moments after the first whistle and never lost their lead after that point. Emma McDonagh ’19 proved her position as a leading scorer when she slapped back the first of her four goals of the contest in the first 18 seconds of play. McDonagh doubled the score when she fired another one past the Wesleyan goalie on a free-position shot just minutes later.

Then it was Casey O’Neill ’19 who gave the Panthers a comfortable lead over the Cardinals after capitalizing on another free-position shot. With Middlebury up 3-0 after less than eight minutes of play, the women were not done yet.

Although the returning players were notching point after point on the board, it was Kirsten Murphy ’21 who made the next three goals happen. First, the first-year glided past the Cardinal defense on her own and hammered the ball past Allegra Grant, the visitors’ goalie. She then assumed a playmaking role, assisting both Georgia Carroll ’18 and Emily Barnard ’20.

Less than 17 minutes into the first half, Middlebury led 7–0.

“We talk a lot about playing as a team — our saying for this year is ‘the pack survives’ — and I think that has translated into our playing style on every part of the field,” said Henley Hall ’19. “While lacrosse is often seen as working on individual skills, a lot of it is team cohesion and reflective glory, or feeling like a teammate’s accomplishments are your own. I think we have also been doing a good job of approaching every game with the same mentality and confidence.”

McDonagh kept the Panthers’ first half momentum going on a free position shot to give herself a hat trick and to increase the Middlebury advantage to seven goals.

The Panthers closed out the half with three more goals, silencing the Cardinals’ hopes until the final 30 minutes of play. Carroll found her second goal of the contest, followed by Jenna McNicholas ’19, who took advantage of a strong assist from Murphy. With under three minutes to go, Barnard successfully breezed past the visitors and knocked in the final goal of the half.

Even though the freezing winds persisted, Middlebury did not let the icy air interfere with their second half of play. McDonagh once again led off the scoring, tallying her 10th goal of the season. After about 40 minutes of unsuccessful Wesleyan attempts to seep past the Panther defense, the Cardinals finally broke through. Abby Manning found the back of the net, despite an impressive attempt at a save by Middlebury goalie Julia Keith ‘20. About three minutes later, Middlebury had a response when O’Neill raced by the Cardinals to extend Middlebury’s double-digit lead. Kate Zecca ’20 completed the competition when she clubbed a shot back in, giving the Panthers a 13–1 victory.

Keith once again protected the net with skill, rejecting four Cardinal balls from her cage.

Middlebury will open its spring break with a matchup against Bowdoin at home on Saturday, March 24, at 12 p.m. The Panthers are seeking revenge after falling by one goal in overtime to their conference rivals around this time last year.

“While we have executed well against all the teams we have played so far, playing Wesleyan this past Saturday was an opportunity for us to take our game to the next level, and I think fortunately we were really able to do that and show ourselves how much potential we have,” said Hall. “We’re going into this week of practice with a lot to be proud of and a lot to work on, and we’re going to prepare for the Bowdoin game just as we do every other game. We’re excited to kick off our spring break trip with a competitive Nescac game.”

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Women’s Lacrosse Rises to No. 2