Women’s Lax: Middlebury Wins NCAA Regional – Panthers Headed to Final Four

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information


MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury women’s lacrosse team advanced to the NCAA final four for the 18th time after a 13-9 win over #4 Gettysburg (18-3) Sunday in the NCAA Regional Finals on Kohn Field. The fifth-ranked Panthers (20-1), which set a program record for victories in a season, will take on Cortland State in an NCAA semifinal game on Saturday, May 28 in Philadelphia. The other national semifinal features Franklin & Marshall against Trinity.

Middlebury netted the first goal of the game when Laurel Pascal scored in transition after taking a feed from Chrissy Ritter just 2:56 into the contest.

The Bullets tied the game at 1-1 on a tally by Abby Baigelman, while Amanda Borucki put the guests in front at the 6:28 mark on a free-position attempt.

Bridget Instrum used a good individual effort to split a pair of Bullet defenders to pull the Panthers even at 2-2, but Gettysburg scored a pair of goals in 28 seconds for a lead 4-2. Maggie Welsh made it a one-goal lead, while Emily Tropsa sent a low shot on a free-position attempt for a two-goal advantage.

Middlebury answered with a six-goal run that catapulted the hosts into an 8-4 advantage. Ritter started the string of goals with a shot from the top of the crease after taking a nice pass from Instrum. Hollis Perticone converted a feed from Mary O’Connell to tie the game at 4-4 with 8:46 left in the half.

Alli Sciarretta bounced a shot in to put the hosts up 5-4 and Instrum added another goal with a successful free-position attempt.

Panther goalie Katie Mandigo came up with a key save with 4:12 on the clock, dropping down to stop a low shot on a free-position attempt by Borucki. On the ensuing possession, Megan Griffin whistled a left-handed shot into the back of the net for a 7-4 lead. The hosts won the draw control and Pascal capped the run with a diving quick-stick tally on a feed from Griffin.

The Bullets added a goal from Baigelman in the final minute of the half, leaving Middlebury with an 8-5 lead at the break.

The Panthers pushed the margin to five goals (10-5), scoring twice in just over a minute to open the second. The first goal was set up a big defensive play by Evie Keating when she drew a charge to give Middlebury possession. Griffin scored in transition with an assist from Ritter, while Instrum ripped a free-position shot into the top-right corner of the net. The hosts took their biggest lead of the game with 21:08 left when Pascal netted her third goal of the game, this time using a quick stick as she was falling to the ground after a dish from Griffin.

The Bullets staged a rally with Katie Willis opening a three-goal run, bouncing in a free-position shot. Gettysburg’s next two goals came while it had a player serving a penalty, as Willis netted the first and Katie Landry the second. The run by the Bullets closed the gap to 11-8 with 13:20 remaining in regulation.

Instrum made pushed the difference back to four goals with an over-the-shoulder shot cutting to the goal. The Panthers then came up with another big defensive play minutes later when Alex White knocked down a shot by Borucki that was headed toward the back of the net.

Gettysburg got back to within 12-9 on Willis’ third goal of the game, but the Panthers closed out the scoring with 5:15 left in regulation with Griffin leaving her feet to put a shot over goalie Bailey Pilder.

The hosts controlled the ball for a majority of the remaining clock, securing a return trip to the national semifinals.

Instrum (4g, 1a) and Griffin (3g, 2a) each finished with five points, while Pascal tallied three times. Jessie Yorke had a steady game on defense with three ground balls and two caused turnovers. Mandigo was strong again, earning her 10th-straight decision with eight saves.

Willis paced the Bullets with three goal, while Baigelman scored twice and assisted on two others. Caroline Jaeger led all players with four draw controls, while Christina Wright collected three ground balls. Shannon Keeler played the first 38:52 of the game and had four saves, while Pilder had two stops the rest of the way.