Women’s Lax: Panthers Come Up Short in NCAA Title Game

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

SALEM, VA. — The Middlebury women’s lacrosse team saw its bid for a second NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship in the last three seasons come up one game short, as the Panthers fell to defending champion Gettysburg 11-9 on Monday in Salem, Virginia. The game that featured the past two champions was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was pushed back until Monday due to inclement weather in the Salem area.

Middlebury, which had its 11-game winning streak come to an end, finished the season at 20-3, with those 20 victories marking the second-highest total in program history. The squad also tallied 312 goals, tying for the most in a single season with the 2016 team.

Three Panthers were recognized following the contest, as Georgia Carroll, Hollis Perticone and Emma McDonagh all earned spots on to the all-tournament team.

Gettysburg (21-2) opened the scoring on a tally by Liza Barr 2:14 into the contest, but the Panthers responded with back-to-back goals. McDonagh tied the game, splitting a pair of defenders and directing a low shot past Bullet goalie Bailey Pilder. Casey O’Neill followed with a free-position goal for Middlebury’s first lead at 2-1 with 24:45 on the clock.

After pair of goals put the Bullets back in front 3-2, the Panthers pulled even with 10 minutes expired, as Kirsten Murphy fed Kate Zecca at the top of the crease for a score. Gettysburg countered with consecutive goals by Kerry McKeever and Courtney Patterson for a 5-3 edge, but Middlebury responded. O’Neill tucked in a pass from Sara DiCenso and Murphy made a nice move to the cage and bounced a shot into the upper-left corner of the net to knot the game at 5-5 with 9:31 remaining.

The game was more defensive oriented for the rest of the frame, as Barr’s tally on a free-position attempt while on a player advantage gave the Bullets a 6-5 lead at the break.

Gettysburg opened the new half with two goals 54 seconds apart for an 8-5 edge with 21:52 on the clock. The Panthers got back to within a pair of scores when Carroll rifled a high shot into the back off the net on a feed from McDonagh.

The Bullets began to pull away after that score, reeling off three-straight tallies for an 11-6 advantage. Katie Willis netted the first of the run with Barr collecting the next two.

McDonagh helped Middlebury cut into the deficit with two goals just 15 seconds apart. Her first came in an unsettled situation, while on her second she faked high and slid a low offering in for her third tally of the contest. Murphy made it an 11-9 contest with 4:09 remaining, working her way around the crease and putting a low shot past Pilder.

The Panthers had one full possession after that goal, but were unable to pull to within a score and the Bullets ran out the remaining time.

McDonagh finished with three goals and an assist, concluding the tournament with 18 goals in five games. Murphy added two goals and an assist, while O’Neill netted a pair. Perticone collected five draw controls, while Evie Keating and Addy Mitchell each scooped up three ground balls. Kate Furber finished with five saves in goal.

Barr netted a game-high five goals for Gettysburg, while Willis chipped in with a pair. Steph Colson had a balanced contest with one goal, three assists, three ground balls and nine draw controls. Pilder, the only player in all three NCAA divisions with a save percentage over .600 (.611), finished with 12 saves.