May 3, 2010

            The Middlebury College women's lacrosse team lost a tight game at Colby, falling 9-8 in a NESCAC Quarterfinal game in Maine. The Panthers finish their season at 8-7 and will miss the NCAA's for the first time since they've been eligible ('93-'94), a span of 16 years.

            Middlebury won the first seven NESCAC titles after the league started a playoff system in 2001. Colby is the two-time defending champion and has now eliminated the Panthers in each of the last three years. Middlebury had never lost a quarterfinal game, with Colby winning the last two years over the Panthers in semifinal contests.

            The sixth-ranked Mules (12-3 overall) led 4-2 at halftime and opened up a 9-4 margin when Kate Gragnolati tallied with 6:58 to play.

            Middlebury refused to give up and scored the next four goals, the final score on a free-position shot by first-year player Margaret Souther (Scarsdale, N.Y.) with 2:06 to play. Suddenly the Mules only had a 9-8 margin.

            Colby's Caroline Duke caused two turnovers in the final 1:46 to help the Mules regain critical possession time and run out the clock.

            Amy Campbell scored two goals and two assists against Middlebury. Kate Pistel had a big all-around game with two goals, four caused turnovers, and four groundballs. Kathleen Kramer also had two goals, while Claire Donegan had one goal and two assists.

            Junior Chase Delano (Greenwich, Conn.) finished with four of Middlebury's eight goals. Rookie Heather Marrison (Brewster, N.Y.), junior Sally Ryan (Mountain Lakes, N.J) and sophomore Elizabeth Garry (Maramoneck, N.Y.) also tallied for the Panthers.

            Colby goalkeeper Sarah Warnke had eight of her 11 saves in the second half when Middlebury put on loads of pressure. Panther sophomore keeper Lily Nguyen (Oakland, Calif.) also played well with nine of her 13 saves in the first half to keep Middlebury close at the break.

            Middlebury held off Williams down the stretch to pick up an 11-10 win over the #16 Ephs in the regular season finale for both teams on Friday.

            Williams scored three of the game's first four goals to hold a 3-1 lead behind a pair of Margie Fulton tallies at the 19:21 mark. The teams exchanged the next six goals to leave the Ephs with a 6-4 lead at the halftime break.

            Williams cut the lead to 6-5 1:49 into the half on Fulton's third of the game, but Middlebury answered with a key 4-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 8-7. Garry converted a pair of free position shots with a rocket from senior Dana Heritage (Cheshire, Conn.) sandwiched in between. Marrison ended the run by converting a nice feed from Garry, who was behind the net.

            Sam Weinstein tied the game for Williams with a free position tally before Ryan and Heritage answered for Middlebury to make it a 10-8 game with 13:25 remaining. The Ephs cut the lead to one before Garry scored her third free position goal of the game with 7:42 left to play.

            Weinstein made it a one-goal game with just 3:03 remaining, as Middlebury won the ensuing draw control. The Panthers turned the ball over, as the Ephs took over possession looking to tie the game. A shot sailed wide with 1:25 remaining, before Williams turned the ball over with 1:10 left. Middlebury was able to run the clock down and emerge with the win, their 14th straight over the Ephs.

            Heritage led all scorers with five goals, while Garry added three. Sophomore Stephanie Gill (Hingham, Mass.) picked up five draw controls, Souther had four, while Nguyen made eight saves.

            Middlebury improved to 7-6 on the year with a convincing 17-6 road win at Skidmore (7-8) on Wednesday.

            Middlebury got out to an early 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from Heritage in the first five minutes. Kimberly Segalas cut the lead to one for the Thoroughbreds with her 40th goal of the season at the 22:54 mark, but Heritage would add another and back to-back free-position goals from Ryan and Marrison pushed the lead to 5-1 with 19:13 remaining in the half.

            Skidmore got within two on goals from Lauren McCarthy and Abbie Klaus to make it 5-3.  The Panthers increased the lead back to four on goals from Ryan and Marrison before Lauren Madden made it 7-4 with 4:49 remaining.

            Middlebury closed out the half with a pair of goals to take a 9-4 halftime lead and scored seven straight goals from six different players, including the first five of the second half to make it a 14-4 game early in the second half. The Thoroughbreds were never able to rebound as the final score was 17-6 in favor of Middlebury.

            Madden scored twice for Skidmore and also had four ground balls and two caused turnovers while Segalas also had two goals. Heritage finished with four goals and Ryan and Marrison each had three to pace the Panthers.

            Middlebury outshot the Thoroughbreds 32-17 as Rachel Klein finished with 10 saves in goals for Skidmore. Lily Nguyen earned the win, stopping five shots in 50:49 and sophomore Becca Shaw (Burlington, Vt.) finished out the game, facing no shots in the final 9:11.

• Women's lacrosse final record: 8-7