Women's Lacrosse Headed To Final Four

May 14, 2013

The Middlebury College women's lacrosse team will make its 16th trip to the NCAA final four when they take on Salisbury this weekend in a semifinal match-up at Stevenson University. The Panthers will take on the Gulls at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 18th, with Trinity and Cortland State to follow at 1:30 p.m. The NCAA Championship game will take place at noon on Sunday.

The Panthers are 42-12 in NCAA play since they first qualified for the tourney in ’94. Their .776 NCAA winning percentage is higher than all but one team (TCNJ) in the history of Division III lacrosse. Middlebury won NCAA titles in ’97, ’99, ‘01, ’02 and ’04, advancing to the final four every year from ’94-’07 (14 years). Head coach Missy Foote is in her 33rd season at the helm of the program, sporting a career record of 394-103-1. Her .792 winning percentage is second all-time among her peers. If the Panthers advance to the title game, it will be the 500th of Foote’s career.

The Panthers earned their way into the tournament with an at-large bid after falling short in the NESCAC Championship game. Middlebury opened the season with 10 straight wins before falling by a goal at top-ranked Trinity on April 13th. The Panthers rebounded with five consecutive wins before again falling at Trinity, this time by a score of 8-7 in overtime in the NESCAC Championship game.

In their first-round game, the Panthers had little trouble with Castleton, earning a 20-3 victory. The Middlebury defense held Castleton to success on just 7-18 clears, while using a balanced scoring attack en route to the victory.

The Panthers topped Endicott 13-4 in an NCAA Regional game on Kohn Field. The defense was strong once again, as Endicott cleared just 9-27 attempts in the game, committing 31 turnovers in the game.

Middlebury trailed 6-5 at the half in the regional final against Rensselaer, before outscoring the Engineers 5-2 in the second half. The Panthers held a 23-12 shots advantage in a game that game down to the final minutes.

Middlebury’s rugged schedule has seen them play seven teams ranked in the top 10 this season, with the team earning a perfect 9-0 mark at home on Kohn Field. The Panther offense leads the NESCAC this season with 14.35 goals/game, while the defense is second with a 6.67 goals against average. The team also paces the league in shooting percentage (.496) and draw controls (251), 40 more than any other team.

Senior Ellen Halle leads the team and the NESCAC in goals (56), assists (33) and points (89) this season. She recorded her 100th career goal against Rensselaer and has 16 more points than any other NESCAC player. The first-team All-American has scored in all 20 games this season, with three or more goals 10 times and two or more assists on nine occasions.

Senior Margaret Souther is among the team and NESCAC leaders in four different categories. She is second on the team with 60 points, 22 assists and 33 ground balls, while ranking third with 38 goals.  Her points place her third in the NESCAC, while her assists are fifth-best. The All-American leads the team with 24 caused turnovers this season.

Senior Emma Kramer is second on the Panthers with 39 goals in ’13, to go along with 12 assists and 51 points. She has scored in all but two games this season, including three in the NCAA Regional win over Rensselaer. Junior Liza Herzog (29-13-42) leads the NESCAC with 59 draw controls this season, while sophomore Katie Ritter (25-9-34, 28 ground balls) has six goals in her last three games. Rookie Laurel Pascal (29-3-32, 38 draw controls) has enjoyed a solid rookie season, while senior Michaela Colbert (20-9-29) owns 20 ground balls and 38 draw controls. Sophomore Catherine Fowler takes most of the draw controls, owning 48 of her own this season.

Defensively, seniors Heather Marrison (30 ground balls) and Neile Weeks (25 ground balls) anchor the group, along with junior Hannah Deoul (35 ground balls). In goal, Alyssa Palomba (17-2, 6.74 GAA) has played 89 percent of the minutes in goal. Rookie Katie Mandigo played the second half against Rensselaer, earning her first career win (1-0, 5.38 GAA, 89 min.).

Middlebury will meet Salisbury for the second straight year in the NCAA semifinals, while Trinity and Cortland will also meet for the second consecutive time. A year ago, the Sea Gulls earned a 15-7 win over the Panthers at Montclair State. Salisbury earned an 8-7 win over Middlebury in the ’07 semifinals, while the Panthers earned a 16-2 win in the ’99 quarterfinals. Salisbury leads the all-time series, 5-2.

Middlebury has won both meetings with Cortland, a 10-5 win in the first round in ’04 and a 17-6 victory in the ’01 quarterfinals.

Middlebury leads the all-time series with Trinity, 19-14 with five straight Bantam wins. Trinity earned a 10-9 win in the ’11 NCAA Regional Finals, topping the Panthers in both the ’12 and ’13 NESCAC Championship games. The only other NCAA meeting between the schools came back in ’95, a 15-9 Middlebury win in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship
Saturday, May 18th – Stevenson Univ. (Md.)
Middlebury (18-2) vs. Salisbury (21-0) – 10:30 a.m.
Trinity (20-0) vs. Cortland (21-1) – 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 19th – Stevenson Univ. (Md.)
NCAA Championship – 12:00 p.m.