Women's Lacrosse To Host NESCAC Quarterfinal

April 26, 2012

Defending conference champion Trinity College will look to add a second title to its trophy case during the 2012 edition of the NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship. Trinity, the top-seeded team in the league’s annual tournament for the third year in a row, will join Colby, Middlebury, and Amherst in hosting a quarterfinal contest this Saturday, April 28. The highest seeded team to survive the opening round will host the final rounds May 5-6.

Trinity (13-1, 9-1 NESCAC) has steadily progressed into one of the premier teams in the conference. After making their first appearance in the championship game in 2008, the Bantams finished atop the NESCAC standings for the first time ever in 2010, only to be knocked out of the playoffs in the semifinals by eventual champion Williams. Trinity ran the table in 2011, putting together a remarkable wire-to-wire run through the conference schedule before winning the program’s first NESCAC crown over Colby, 7-1. The Bantams overcame their share of challenges this season, notably handing Colby (11-9) and Middlebury (13-9) their first losses of the season before locking up the top spot this past Saturday with a hard-fought 8-7 decision over Hamilton. Trinity will open its title defense on Saturday against eighth-seeded Bates (7-7, 3-7 NESCAC). The Bobcats secured a spot in this year’s tournament thanks to a 12-11, double-overtime win at Connecticut College this past Saturday before suffering a 10-8 setback in the season finale to Colby. Facing off against Trinity will prove challenging for Bates, not only because the Bantams are the top-seeded team but also because they hold an eight-game winning streak over the Bobcats that includes a 16-6 decision in favor of Trinity during the 2010 quarterfinals.

The only thing that prevented Colby (13-1, 9-1 NESCAC) from finishing atop the league standings for the first time ever was its 11-9 setback at Trinity on April 6, as the Mules’ lone loss this season gave the Bantams the head-to-head tie-breaker for the number-one seed. There were no easy wins for Colby in NESCAC play this spring, as seven out of the Mules’ nine victories came by two goals or less. Colby cemented its status as the second-seeded team in this year’s playoffs with a come-from-behind win at Middlebury this past Saturday, 8-6, then closed things out on Wednesday with another come-from-behind victory at Bates. The Mules have enjoyed a great deal of success in the NESCAC tournament in recent years, reaching the final in each of the last five seasons and winning back-to-back crowns in 2008 and 2009. Colby will start things up this Saturday against seventh-seeded Hamilton (6-9, 4-6 NESCAC). While the Continentals are new to NESCAC play, they’re no strangers to the Mules when it comes to the postseason, as this will be the fourth time in the last five years that Colby and Hamilton have clashed. The Continentals downed the Mules in the 2008 NCAA regionals en route to the program’s first national championship, then two years later Hamilton ended Colby’s season once again in the NCAA tournament. The Mules earned their revenge in the 2011 NCAA second round, 6-5, and won the lone regular season match between the two during spring break in Clermont, Fla. on March 20, breaking a 9-all tie with a pair of late goals in an 11-9 victory.

Middlebury (10-3, 7-3 NESCAC) knew heading into the season finale with Williams that it would be the three seed, as the Panthers held the head-to-head tie-breaker over Amherst but did not have the same advantage against Colby. After a hot start to the year that saw Middlebury go unbeaten in its first nine games, things have cooled off considerably for the Panthers. Middlebury is just 1-3 over its last four outings, losing its final three conference contests including Wednesday’s heartbreaking 15-14 setback in triple-overtime to the Ephs. The NESCAC championship used to be synonymous with the Panthers, as they won the first seven conference crowns. The road to the title has been a lot tougher for Middlebury in recent years, though, as the Panthers have not made an appearance in the final since winning the 2007 championship and have suffered an early exit in each of the last two years. Middlebury will look to get back to its winning ways against sixth-seeded Tufts (9-5, 5-5 NESCAC) in a rematch from last year’s quarterfinals. The Jumbos went to Middlebury and edged the Panthers in the 2011 opening round, 13-12, only to end up on the short end of the same score to eventual champ Trinity in the semifinals. Middlebury rolled past Tufts in the only meeting of this season, 16-5 on March 25 in Medford.

Fourth-seeded Amherst (11-3, 7-3 NESCAC) will take on fifth-seeded Bowdoin (10-5, 6-4 NESCAC) in the remaining first round matchup on Saturday. The Lord Jeffs wrapped up the regular season on a high note Wednesday evening by going to Trinity and coming away with a 7-6 victory over the Bantams. The win not only extended Amherst’s unbeaten streak to fi ve, it also was the first loss the Bantams had suffered in the regular season in 27 games. The Polar Bears went into their match with Tufts on Wednesday evening knowing that the winner would get the fifth seed and head to Amherst, while the loser would be relegated to sixth and make the longer trip to Middlebury. The two teams dueled through regulation and then into overtime before Bowdoin came out on top by a 10-9 score. This past March, Amherst overcame Bowdoin in an 8-5 decision. Saturday’s showdown will be the fourth in tournament history between the two squads. The Polar Bears won a defensive battle over the Jeffs in last year’s opening round, 5-3, and close games have been part of the storyline in the playoff series, as the previous two meetings were both decided by a single goal in overtime.

Quarterfinals - Saturday, April 28 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Bates at No. 1 Trinity - 12:00 p.m.
No. 7 Hamilton at No. 2 Colby - 1:00 p.m.
No. 6 Tufts at No. 3 Middlebury - 12:00 p.m.
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 4 Amherst - 12:00 p.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, May 5 at Highest Remaining Seed
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed - 12:00 p.m.
Remaining first round winners - 2:30 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, May 6
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.

--courtesy NESCAC--