Women's Lacrosse Heads To Tufts For NESCAC Championship Weekend - Watch Live!

April 28, 2009

The Middlebury women's lacrosse team is headed to Tufts for the 2009 NESCAC Women's Lacrosse Championship. The host school will meet Williams on Saturday, May 2nd at noon, while Middlebury battles Colby at 2:30 p.m. The winners meet for the NESCAC Championship with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, May 3rd at noon.

Tufts (14-1, 8-1 NESCAC) won the race for the number-one seed in this year's championship on the last day of the regular season with a 13-7 victory over Bowdoin. While Tufts finished tied with Colby atop the conference standings with identical 8-1 records, the Jumbos' 13-9 win over the Mules in Waterville, Maine on March 14 proved to be the difference. Tufts' 14-11 victory against Amherst in the quarterfinals on Sunday was monumental for the Jumbos in more ways than one. Not only did the win put Tufts into the semifinals for the first time in nine-year history of the tournament but it also set a new program record for victories in a season with 14. Saturday's first semifinal sets up an interesting rematch from earlier this season, as the only blemish on the Jumbos' record came during a home loss to Williams on March 21, 15-13. Since the setback, Tufts has gone on to win 10-straight contests by an average margin of almost six goals per game. The Jumbos head into the weekend with an offense that ranks second overall in scoring with 14.67 goals per game, while the defense is fourth with a goals against average of 9.07. Leading the attack for Tufts has been the tandem of sophomore Amanda Roberts (Wenham, Mass.) and junior Emily Johnson (Yarmouth, Maine). Roberts, who earned All-NESCAC Second Team honors after pacing her team in scoring as a rookie, has a team-best 52 points on 40 goals and 12 assists while also ranking second among her squad in draw controls (31), ground balls (37), and caused turnovers (22). Johnson is not far behind Roberts in goals with 37, collecting 44 points through 15 games (37-7-44). Senior midfielder Chrissie Attura (Yarmouth, Maine) has played a pivotal role in setting up the Tufts ground forces, as her 30 assists are second among all conference players in addition to leading her team.

If the Jumbos wish to reach the conference championship for the first time in program history, they will have to accomplish something that they have not been achieved in over a decade: beat fifth-seeded Williams (11-5, 4-5 NESCAC). The Ephs' win in Medford on March 21 extended their unbeaten streak against the Jumbos to 14 years, the last setback coming in April of 1995 (11-7). During Sunday's quarterfinal contest at fourth-seeded Trinity, Williams came away with a 15-13 victory to improve its record to 8-0 in first round contests. Like their semifinal opponent, the Ephs, who have never faced Tufts in the league playoffs, are still looking to reach the championship match for the first time, having gone 0-7 in their previous attempts. Williams has a bit of momentum heading into Saturday's showdown with wins in five of its last six outings. The Ephs are in the middle of the pack statistically in the conference, averaging 12.88 goals per game (5th NESCAC) along with a goals against average of 9.00 (3rd). On offense, first year attacker Margie Fulton (Wellesley, Mass.) is enjoying a magnificent rookie season at Williams. With a team-high 42 goals and 66 points (42-24-66), Fulton leads all first year players in scoring and is tied for third among all conference individuals. Senior midfielder Britt Spackman (Newton, Mass.) is also in the midst of a stellar year, as she is second only to Fulton with a career-best 35 goals and 27 assists for 62 points, needing just six more points to match the 68 she accumulated as a rookie in 2006. In net, sophomore goalkeeper Julia Schreiber (Cockeysville, Md.) has played almost every minute of every game, recording an 11-5 mark with a .507 save percentage along with an 8.97 goals against average.

Second-seeded Colby (14-1, 8-1 NESCAC) will bring its 13-game winning streak into Saturday's semifinals, needing just one more victory to set a new program record for wins in a season after the Mules tied the mark during the quarterfinals with a 21-15 decision over seventh-seeded Wesleyan. Colby has achieved remarkable success in each of the last two NESCAC championships. The Mules reached the final for the first time ever in 2007, falling to Middlebury 10-8, then handed the Panthers their first-ever tournament loss in the 2008 semifinals and captured the squad's first league title with a 14-12 win over Trinity. With only one loss so far this season, the aforementioned setback to Tufts on March 14, Colby appears poised to repeat as champions. It may come as little surprise that the Mules are either at the top or among the league leaders in most major statistical categories, holding first in goals per game (15.27), draw controls (14.20), goals against average (8.38) and save percentage (.531). Powering the Colby attack has been the play of senior midfielder Kate Sheridan (Hingham, Mass.). Sheridan, the 2008 NESCAC Player of the Year, already owns a multitude of season and career program records, as she has amassed 179 goals and 107 assists for 286 points during her four years in Waterville. Sheridan currently has a NESCAC-best 77 points, scoring 32 goals and a conference-high 45 helpers, just nine shy of adding the Colby single-season assist mark to her record collection. Along with the prolific scoring figures, Sheridan also leads her club with 34 ground balls and 32 draw controls while ranking third in caused turnovers with 17. Although Sheridan gets the bulk of her opponents' attention, junior attacker Amy Campbell (North Andover, Mass.) heads up the group of five individuals on the Mules with 20-plus goals, tallying 33 in 15 appearances this season. Campbell set a championship record in the first round against Wesleyan with a game-high seven goals.

In search of some redemption will be third-seeded Middlebury (9-4, 7-2 NESCAC). Winners of seven consecutive NESCAC crowns from 2001 through 2007, the Panthers had their 14-0 run in tournament play come to a grinding halt in last year's semifinals thanks to the Mules. After falling to Colby for the first time ever last spring, Middlebury came up just short in the lone regular season meeting on March 27, suffering a 10-9 double-overtime loss. The Panthers' only other conference loss was a 12-7 setback at Tufts on April 11. Middlebury regrouped after the loss and went on to win its last four outings, most recently rolling past Bates 18-4 in the quarterfinals on Sunday. Saturday's semifinal should be entertaining for fans of both teams to watch, as the Panthers closely follow the league-leading Mules in goals per game with 13.31 (3rd NESCAC) along with a goals against average of 8.50 (2nd). Leading Middlebury this season on offense are junior Dana Heritage (Cheshire, Conn.) and sophomores Chase Delano (Greenwich, Conn.) and Sally Ryan (Mountain Lakes, N.J.). Heritage has a team-high 52 points on 32 goals and 20 assists while Delano is not too far behind in second with 48 points on a program-best 37 tallies and 11 helpers. Ryan ranks third among her teammates with 43 points, as the three have accounted for 100 of the Panthers' 173 goals in 2009. In net, senior Blair Bowie (Washington, D.C.) has played almost every minute this season and owns a 9-4 record, an 8.43 goals against average, and a .516 save percentage.

Quarterfinals - Sunday, April 26 at Higher Seeds
at No. 1 Tufts 14, No. 8 Amherst 11
at No. 2 Colby 21, No. 7 Wesleyan 15
at No. 3 Middlebury 18, No. 6 Bates 4
No. 5 Williams 15, at No. 4 Trinity 13

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

Championship - Sunday, May 3 at Tufts
Semifinal Winners - 12:00 p.m.

You can watch all three games live via JumboCast at: http://www.jumbocast.com/index.php

-- courtesy NESCAC --