May 8, 2012

The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team will make its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 19 years when they host Norwich in a first-round game on Wednesday, May 9th at 5:00 p.m

Junior attacker Kaitlin Hildebrand scored the game-winning goal with 4.7 seconds left to lead top-seeded Trinity to an 11-10 victory over Middlebury in the NESCAC Championship on Sheppard Field. 

Trinity held the ball for the final six minutes of the game, until senior Liz Bruno passed it from the right wing to junior Hadley Duncan who was positioned directly in front of the cage for the game-winning attempt. Duncan, who already had a hat trick in the game, mishandled the quick catch-and-shoot, but Hildebrand snatched up the loose ball and fired the clinching goal past Middlebury senior Lily Nguyen (Oakland, Calif.). Middlebury sophomore midfielder Liza Herzog (Baltimore, Md.)  and Trinity rookie Lindsay Mullaney had scored goals just 13 seconds apart inside the 10-minute mark to make the score, 10-10, where it remained until the closing seconds.

Trinity had opened the game with a 3-0 run, scoring off the opening draw on a running shot by first-year Caroline Hayes 22 seconds into the contest, and twice more before 10 minutes had gone by.  Middlebury junior Margaret Souther (Scarsdale, N.Y.) got the visitors on the board with a goal from classmate Michaela Colbert (Topsfield, Mass.) at the 20:01 mark, but the Bantams rattled off three more tallies in a row.  Hildebrand scored once and assisted on a second goal during the spurt.  The Panthers recovered and scored five straight times in the last 10 minutes of the first half, including a pair of unassisted goals by Herzog, and tied the contest on a bouncing free-position shot by sophomore Hannah Deoul (Stevenson, Md.) with 2:25 left before the break. Playing one player short in the final minute of the first half after a yellow card, Duncan gave Trinity back the lead and the momentum heading into halftime with consecutive goals with 36 and six seconds left, respectively. 

Middlebury quickly cut the deficit back to one goal at 8-7 just 24 seconds into the second stanza when Herzog fed senior Elizabeth Garry (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), and tied it on a hard and low shot by rookie Katie Ritter (Middlebury, Vt.) from just inside the circle at the 27:07 mark.  The Panthers took their first lead with 21:26 left in the game on a free-position tally by Garry only to have Duncan one-time in a pass by Bruno with 19:45 on the clock to make it a 9-9 game. After a 10-minute scoreless streak for both squads, Souther fed Herzog for a goal at 9:21 followed by a rebound shot by Mullaney that tied the game for the last time at 9:08.

Duncan finished with four points on three goals and one assist for the Trinity offense, which outshot Middlebury, 24-17, while Hildebrand notched two goals and one helper, and Bruno recorded three assists and a game-high five draw controls.

Herzog totaled three goals and one assist for the Panthers, while Souther had two goals and one assist, and Garry scored twice.  Middlebury senior Lucy Jackson (Bronxville, N.Y.) caused three turnovers, and Nguyen made eight saves, while Trinity junior goalie Olivia Whitney stopped five shots.

Middlebury advanced to the title game after a 7-6 win over Amherst (12-4) in a semifinal contest at Trinity.

With the game tied at 3-3 at the break, Middlebury rattled off three straight goals in a 1:14 span and maintained the lead the rest of the way.  Souther fed Colbert at the 24:21 mark for the first goal of the second half, and added an unassisted tally of her own 36 seconds later.  Herzog completed the 3-0 run off a pass by junior attacker Emma Kramer (Riverside, Conn.) with 23:07 on the clock.

            Amherst cut the deficit to one goal, as sophomore Alex Philie and Allie Horwitz scored 26 seconds apart midway through the second half, but Garry answered with a free-position at the 12-minute mark. Amherst controlled the draw, and Phillie beat Nguyen with 10:51 left to play to make the score, 7-6, in the Panthers’ favor. Middlebury attempted to kill the clock, but Amherst junior midfielder Marta Randall drew a charge to give the ball to the Lord Jeffs.  Nguyen made a save on a shot by Philie, however, and the Panthers again held the ball.  Horwitz finally forced a Middlebury turnover with just 15 seconds left in the game, and Amherst had the ball in its offensive end when offsetting fouls were called with five ticks on the clock and Middlebury won the throw.

The teams had traded goals over the first 11 minutes, before a Panther goal by Ritter gave Middlebury a 3-2 lead at the 19:34 mark.  The defenses held both teams scoreless over almost the next 18 minutes, before Amherst rookie Meghan Mills  converted on a free position with 1:42 left before intermission.  Middlebury finished with a 14-to-7 edge on ground balls, including three to go with two goals and a pair of caused turnovers by Ritter. Nguyen totaled eight saves and Lord Jeff senior Lamia Harik made five stops in the cages.

• Women’s lacrosse record: 12-4

• Up next: 5/9 vs. Norwich – 5:00 (NCAA first-round), 5/12-13 - NCAA Regional