Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information
Philadelphia, PA. — The Middlebury women’s lacrosse won its sixth NCAA Championship and its first since 2004 with a 9-5 victory over Trinity at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The national championship is the 33rd overall for the College, as the Panthers finish with a school-record 22 wins against just one loss. The teams split two previous meetings this spring, with Trinity winning during the regular season and the Panthers coming out victorious in the NESCAC Championship.
The victory increased Middlebury’s winning streak to 12 games, as the Panthers set a new single-season team record with 312 goals. Panther head coach Kate Livesay wins her second NCAA title as a coach after leading Trinity to the crown in 2012. She won twice as a Panther on the 2001 and 2002 squads. The NCAA Championship is the second for Middlebury during the 2015-16 academic year after Bridget Instrumand Susanna Baker won the title with the Panther field hockey team last fall. Sunday’s championship game marked the first time two teams from the same conference have been in the title contest since Amherst edged Middlebury in 2003. Seventh-ranked Trinity finishes as the NCAA runner-up for the fourth-straight season, ending the year with a 19-4 mark.
The Bantams had the first two scoring chances of the game with each bid being denied by Panther goalieKatie Mandigo, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The first came on a free-position attempt by Abby McInerney, as Mandigo dropped to smother the low shot and minutes later, the Panther goalie stopping Karly Simpson’s high shot with another save.
Middlebury had a good opportunity to get the game’s first goal when Megan Griffin fired a shot from the right side of the cage that was stopped by Trinity goalkeeper Zoe Ferguson 8:38 into the game. The rebound went right back to Griffin’s stick and her second attempt deflected off the right post.
The Panthers netted the game’s initial goal with 16:32 left in the half when Laurel Pascal bounced a low shot on a free-position attempt, her 50th tally of the year.
Mandigo continued to come up with big saves, stopping Kiley Coffey’s low shot and thwarting Martha Griffin from point-blank range with just over 11 minutes left in the half.
Perticone gave Middlebury a 3-0 lead with 4:26 left before the half, running straight to the goal crease on a clearing attempt before bouncing a shot that went in just under the cross bar.
The Panthers netted two goals in the final minute of the half with the first starting on the defensive end of the field. Chrissy Ritter intercepted a Bantam pass and once the Panthers set up the offense, Instrum earned a free-position shot which she snuck through Ferguson’s legs. For the second-straight game, Alli Sciarretta came up with a big goal in the final 10 seconds of the opening half. She collected a free ball in front of the Trinity net, quickly spinning and lacing a shot into the upper-right corner. The goal came with 9.9 seconds before the break and gave Middlebury a 5-0 lead going to the intermission.
The Panther defense was stellar in the first 30 minutes, keeping the Bantams off of the scoreboard and limiting Trinity to six shots. This was the fourth time in the championship game’s history which a team has been held scoreless in the first half and the third time in the last five years. It was also the first time this season Trinity has been held scoreless in the opening 30 minutes.
In the second half, Mandigo made a save on a free-position attempt by Alli Barrett with the tip of her stick. Instrum got the offense going with just over four minutes into the final half, working around the backside of the cage, utilizing a low shot to make it a 6-0 Panther lead.
The Bantams scored their first goal of the game 7:33 into the second half when Clare Lyne dodged a defender and bounced a shot into the net. Trinity looked to add a second goal 30 seconds later on a free-position shot by McInerney, but Mandigo reached down to block the shot and gathered the ground ball.
Lyne made it a 6-2 contest with 18:02 on the clock via her second tally of the contest, this one coming on a free-position attempt.
The Panthers pushed the difference back to five goals (7-2) minutes later on a nice passing play. Sara DiCenso set up on the right wing and fed Pascal near to the top of the crease, who turned and fired for her second tally of the game.
Middlebury’s Emma McDonagh netted her first goal of the game, beating her defender at the top of the arc before shooting low for an 8-1 lead.
Trinity kept within striking distance when Lyne picked up the hat trick on an assist from Simpson.
Defense turned to offense again for the Panthers when Ritter scooped up a ground ball and carried it into the Bantam half of the field. Ritter dished a pass to O’Connell on her right, who directed a shot into the upper right corner for a 9-3 edge.
Kiley Coffey and McInerney added late goals for the Bantams to make it a 9-5 final.
Instrum, Pascal and Perticone each scored twice in the game for the Panthers, while O’Connell finished with a goal and an assist. Mandigo made eight saves in goal to earn the win. Alex White finished with four ground balls and two caused turnovers, while Ritter had three of each.
Lyne paced Trinity with a game-high three goals as the Panther defense held NESCAC Player of the Year Martha Griffin scoreless in the game. Ferguson made three saves in the first half, while Emily Mooney stopped five in the second half.
Instrum’s 63-goal effort this season tied her for sixth on the school’s all-time list, while O’Connell’s 79 points place her for ninth. O’Connell’s 43 assists are the second-most in a single season at Middlebury. Instrum, Pascal and Ritter were named to the all-tournament team.