Women's Lacrosse Set To Host Championship - Watch Live!

April 29, 2008

Top-seeded Middlebury College will pursue its eighth consecutive conference title this weekend when the Panthers host the final rounds of the 2008 NESCAC Women's Lacrosse Championship at Peter Kohn Field in Middlebury, Vt. The semifinals begin Saturday, May 3 with Middlebury facing fifth-seeded Colby at 12:00 p.m. and will be immediately followed with second-seeded Amherst taking on third-seeded Trinity at 2:30 p.m. The 2008 NESCAC Women's Lacrosse Championship concludes on Sunday, May 4 at 12:00 p.m. Fans unable to attend this weekend's action will be able to follow all three games live via the Internet on D3Cast.com.

Middlebury (10-3, 8-1 NESCAC) closed out the 2008 conference slate in uncharacteristic fashion, losing 15-7 at Tufts on April 26. The setback not only snapped a seven game winning streak for the Panthers, it marked the first regular season loss to a NESCAC opponent since the inception of tournament play in 2001. Prior to last Saturday's game, Middlebury had some close calls in conference play this year, edging Williams 13-10 on April 2 and getting past Trinity 13-11 on April 12. Although the loss ruined the Panthers shot at a remarkable eighth-straight unbeaten league record, the defending champs were not in danger of losing out on the number-one seed, as Middlebury guaranteed itself another first place finish a week before the end of the season by rolling past Wesleyan 19-6 on April 19. The Panthers have won every NESCAC Women's Lacrosse Championship, a total of seven titles, and head into the weekend with an offense that ranks second in the conference at 14.54 goals per game and third in defense with a goals against average of 9.31. The senior tandem of Mimi Schatz (Baltimore, Md.) and Katherine Entwisle (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) lead the Middlebury attack this season. Schatz has a team-leading 46 points on 27 goals and 19 assists, while Entwisle's 41 tallies rank third among all NESCAC players. Sophomore attacker Dana Heritage (Cheshire, Conn.), the 2007 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, is third on the Panthers' roster in scoring, needing only one more goal to match her first year total of 27.

Looking to hand Middlebury its first tournament loss will be fifth-seeded Colby (10-5, 5-4 NESCAC). Tied with Tufts in the conference standings heading into the season finale last Saturday, the Mules thought they had the final home game in the first round in hand after defeating Amherst 12-7 until the Jumbos scooped it up by upending Middlebury. Colby returned the favor on Sunday at Tufts, opening up a big second half lead en route to a 22-14 win. The Mules have been one of the strongest teams down the stretch this season. Since falling to Middlebury 17-11 on March 29 in Waterville, Maine, Colby has gone on to win six of its last eight games, coming up short by a single goal in both setbacks. A powerful offense has been one of the key's to the Mules' late-season success, as they have averaged just above their NESCAC-best 15.27 goals per game over their last eight outings thanks in part to the efforts of juniors Kate Sheridan (Hingham, Mass.) and Becky Julian (South Windsor, Conn.). Sheridan, the 2006 NESCAC Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-NESCAC honoree, has tallied more than 40 goals in each of the past three seasons and currently leads the conference in scoring with 78 points on 47 goals and 31 assists. After missing the first two games of the year while leading the Mules to the final of the 2008 NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship, Julian has flourished during her third season with the women's lacrosse team by doubling her previous career-best points total of 27 with 37 goals and 17 assists for 54 points (4th NESCAC). Saturday's first semifinal, the fifth playoff meeting between the two teams, will be a rematch of the 2007 championship game in which Middlebury edged Colby 10-8 in the closest final in tournament history.

Second-seeded Amherst (13-2, 7-2 NESCAC) advanced to the semifinals by holding off seventh-seeded Wesleyan 8-7 in the first round. Up 3-2 at halftime, the Jeffs built an 8-3 advantage in the second half only to witness the Cardinals whittle away at the lead before coming up short in a last-ditch effort to tie the game. Amherst's only two losses so far this season have come against NESCAC foes, 14-3 at Middlebury on April 5 that snapped an 8-0 start to the year and the aforementioned 12-7 loss at Colby to close out the regular season. Although the Jeffs join the Panthers as being the only two teams to reach the semifinals in every championship, Amherst has not made it to the final since 2005, falling in overtime to Bowdoin in 2006 and suffering a setback to Colby last spring. The Jeffs' offense ranks eighth in the conference at 10.67 goals per game this season, however the defense is among the league leaders with a 7.23 goals against average (2nd) and 12.93 caused turnovers per game (1st). It all starts in net for Amherst with rock-solid defense from keeper Linda McEvoy (Rochester, N.Y.). The senior currently holds the top spot in the NESCAC in both goals against average (7.31) and save percentage (.547) while owning a 13-2 record. Up front for the Jeffs, junior attacker Amy Craig (Denver, Colo.) has collected a team-leading 40 goals, fourth among all conference players.

Making its first-ever appearance in the semifinals will be third-seeded Trinity (10-5, 6-3 NESCAC). During last year's championship, the Bantams secured an opening round contest for the first time in program history only to suffer a heartbreaking 14-13 overtime loss to Williams after leading for most of the game. Trinity avoided the same fate on Sunday against Bowdoin, withstanding a Polar Bear comeback to win 12-9. The Bantams enter Saturday's contest riding their longest winning streak of the season at three games. The lone meeting of the regular season between Trinity and Amherst went to the Jeffs on April 2, 9-6 in Hartford, and this weekend's clash will be the second in tournament history for the two, with Amherst winning the first meeting 11-7 in the 2002 first round. Statistically this season, Trinity is third in the NESCAC in scoring average at 13.33 goals per game and seventh defensively with a 10.43 goals against average. Senior attacker C.J.Yanofsky (Needham, Mass.) drives the offense for the Bantams, as she leads the league in goals with 52 and is second in points to Colby's Sheridan with 70. First year midfielder Rachel Romanowsky (Hampstead, N.H.) is in the midst of a breakout rookie campaign. Romanowsky ranks third among all players in scoring and is tops among first year players with 37 goals and 22 assists for 59 points, averaging 4.21 points per game.

First Round - Sunday, April 27 at Higher Seeds

at No. 2 Amherst 8, No. 7 Wesleyan 7
at No. 3 Trinity 12, No. 6 Bowdoin 9
No. 5 Colby 22, at No. 4 Tufts 14

Semifinals - Saturday, May 3 at Middlebury
No. 5 Colby at No. 1 Middlebury - 12:00 p.m.
No. 3 Trinity vs. No. 2 Amherst - 2:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, May 4 at Middlebury
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.

-- courtesy NESCAC--