April 4, 2011

            The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team downed Stevens Institute of Technology 17-7 in a battle of top 20 teams on Tuesday afternoon at the De Baun Athletic Complex in Hoboken, N.J. The 13th ranked Panthers scored the game’s first four goals as the ninth-ranked Ducks could get no closer than two the rest of the way. Middlebury had the better run of play in the first half, taking a 7-3 lead into the intermission. The Panthers ended the opening 30 minutes with a 15-13 edge in shots and a 14-9 ground ball advantage. The two teams committed an amazing 46 fouls in the first half, while the Ducks (5-2) won 7-of-11 draws.

            Senior Sally Ryan (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) put Middlebury on top 1-0 at the 1:17 mark with a free-position tally, as sophomore Michaela Colbert (Topsfield, Mass.) followed up 5:25 later, for the Panthers’ second score. Sophomore Ellen Halle (Upperco, Md.) extended the Panther lead to four with a pair of unassisted goals 18 seconds apart, before Stevens was able to slice the lead in half, thanks to markers from Leah Wasserman and Joey Galligan. Middlebury responded, scoring three of the final four goals of the half for a 7-3 lead at the break.

            Halle, junior Elizabeth Garry (Mamaroneck, N.Y.), and Colbert each scored two goals, leading a 7-0 run to start the second half of play, opening a 14-3 advantage for Middlebury. After a Stevens goal, the Panthers scored the next three for a 17-4 lead with 9:14 left, as Ryan, junior Stephanie Gill (Hingham, Mass.), and sophomore Alice Pfeifer (Chevy Chase, Md.) each scored during the burst. The Ducks netted the final three goals of the game for the 17-7 outcome.

            Stevens ended the game with a 30-28 advantage in shots but the Panthers were able to convert 61 percent of their attempts into scores. The Panthers finished with an 18-14 edge in ground balls, while Stevens ended with a 14-11 advantage in draw controls. The two teams combined to commit 79 total fouls as Stevens committed 40 to Middlebury’s 39.

            Halle finished with a game-high seven points on five goals and two assists, while Colbert and Ryan each tallied three times for Middlebury. Junior goalie Lily Nguyen (Oakland, Calif.) made 13 saves for the Panthers, allowing five goals over the first 55:35, while rookie Alyssa Palomba (Shrewsbury, Mass.) filled in for the final 4:25, allowing two scores.

            Middlebury topped Catholic University of America in dramatic fashion as Ryan scored the final four goals of the contest, including the game-winner with less than four seconds left, for a remarkable 13-12 road win between top 20 opponents. The win gives the Panthers a sharp 6-0 record, while the 10th ranked Cardinals, facing a ranked team for the fifth time this year, fall to 5-2 on the season.

            Ryan scored the first of her career-high seven goals to open the game at 28:39, as Colbert made it a 2-0 Middlebury lead nearly two minutes later. Kate Robinson got CUA on the board with a score at 26:02, following with another tally 47 seconds later knotting the game at two apiece. The Panthers responded with three straight scores to go in front 5-2 with 15:21 to play in the half, but Mary Swarthout brought CUA to within 5-4 with back-to-back goals. Ryan and Swarthout then traded goals in a span of 1:01, making it a 6-5 game in Middlebury’s favor going into halftime.

            Halle put the visitors in front 7-5 with her goal 1:05 into the second half, but CUA’s Lindsay Davenport answered with a goal off a Swarthout assist and the Cardinals were within one with 25:29 on the clock. Garry’s goal with 20:03 to play put the Panthers up by two once again, but CUA stormed back with four straight scores to take its first lead of the day, 10-8.  Swarthout scored two of the goals, while Davenport and Kelly Ryan added one each.

Middlebury’s Ryan scored her third goal of the day on a free position shot with 9:16 left in the game to make it a one-goal affair, but Kate Robinson and Swarthout scored two straight for the Cardinals in a span of 51 seconds, giving CUA a seemingly comfortable 12-9 advantage with 6:43 remaining. But the Cardinals simply had no answer for Middlebury’s Ryan, who took over in the final minutes.

With 2:48 remaining, Swarthout picked up a yellow card that opened the door for Ryan’s dramatics. Ryan scored the first of her final four goals with 2:25 remaining, cutting the deficit to 12-10. She continued with two more scores in the next 1:18 to tie the game at 12 with a just over a minute to play. The Panthers won the ensuing draw control and let the clock run down as they worked the ball around.  Ryan eventually got it and knifed her way towards the goal for the game’s final shot, which found the back of the net with 3.9 seconds remaining. Middlebury won the final draw control and ran the clock out to hold on for the exciting non-conference win.
            Ryan’s seven goals and Halle’s two scores and an assist paced Middlebury. Junior Hannah Epstein (Pennington, N.J.) led the visitors with six ground balls and Ryan won a game-high five draw controls and also caused a pair of turnovers. Nguyen went the first 56:31 in goal for the Panthers and stopped six shots during that time before giving way to Palomba for the final 3:29.

Sarah Lux scored the winning goal with 12.3 seconds left in the second overtime as eighth-ranked Colby won a thrilling 11-10 game over 12th-ranked Middlebury on Saturday at Bill Alfond Field.  The Mules move to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the NESCAC, while the Panthers fall to 6-1 overall and also 3-1 in league action.

With inclement weather pushing the noon start time to 4:00 p.m., Middlebury held leads of 3-1 and 6-3 in the first half, as Ryan scored two Panther goals. Kate Pistel’s four goals led the Colby comeback as the Mules netted the final five goals of the half, taking an 8-6 lead at intermission.

The Mules led 9-6 after Pistel scored off a free-position shot with 27:24 to play in the second half. Middlebury tightened up defensively after that and scored the final three goals of regulation play. Sophomore Dani DeMarco (Norwell, Mass.) scored about two minutes after Pistel's goal. Sophomore Margaret Souther (Scarsdale, N.Y.) tallied off a free-position shot with 18:22 to play. Neile Weeks tied the game at 9-9 with 11:12 left.

After neither team could score the rest of the way in regulation, Ryan broke the tie for Middlebury in the first overtime with 1:17 to play. The overtime in women's lacrosse features two three-minute periods without sudden death, with the third period and on featuring sudden death. Lux had the assist on Colby's tying goal with 36 seconds left in the second overtime, as Casey Thomas took a feed from Lux, raced in a few steps, and scored the equalizer.

In the third overtime, Lux, who also had three assists on the day, ripped a high shot past Nguyen for the game-winner with 12.3 seconds left.

The story for Middlebury was Nguyen, who made a career-best 18 saves to keep her team in the contest. She made nine stops in the second half and three in the overtime periods, with many of them coming off difficult stops. Ryan finished with three goals and a pair of draw controls for Middlebury. Souther also had two goals, while Halle had one goal and one assist.
• Women’s lacrosse record: 6-1
• Up next: 4/5 @ Hamilton, 4/9 vs. Bowdoin – 12:00