MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Mammoths were unable to slip by the top-seeded Panthers, as the fourth-seeded Amherst College women's lacrosse team fell to Middlebury College, 11-5 Saturday afternoon at Kohn Field in a NESCAC Championship Semifinal battle.
With the setback, Amherst falls to 12-5 on the season, while Middlebury improves to 16-1 overall and advances to the league Finals. Amherst will now await word on a possible NCAA Championship at-large bid when selections are announced on May 5.
Hitting their stride midway through the first half and holding the Mammoths scoreless through the opening 21 minutes, the Panthers jumped out to an 5-0 lead.
Getting the home team on the board at the 27:09 mark, Emma McDonagh picked off an Amherst clearing pass 20-yards out to earn a breakaway and powered a shot just under the crossbar to give Middlebury a 1-0 edge.
Staunch defense by both sides highlighted the next 11 minutes of scoreless play, before the Panthers put together a 4-0 run in a six-minute span to push their advantage to 5-0.
Emily Barnard kicked off the unanswered run for Middlebury, shoveling her own rebound into the nylon with 15:47 on the clock after an impressive save by Amherst keeper Talia Land '20 on Barnard's initial attempt.
Winning the ensuing draw, the Panthers made it 3-0 just over a minute later. Scoring on another rebound, McDonagh's free position shot was met with a shoulder save by Land, however the ground ball was picked up by Sara DiCenso who sent a shot through traffic and into the top right corner.
A set free position play pushed the score to 4-0 at the 10:32 mark, as McDonagh hit Barnard with a pass on the far post for the goal.
The breaks continued to fall in Middlebury's favor with 8:44 on the clock. A strong defensive effort by Hannah Gustafson '21 nearly forced a turnover, however Erin Nicholas was able to pick the ball out a scrum in front of the cage and send a shot into the nylon.
Breaking through at the 8:09 mark, sophomore Isabelle Sennett got the Mammoths on the board with a highlight reel play, as she crossed up a Middlebury defender and ripped a low to high shot past the Panthers' keeper.
Closing out first half scoring with 3:05 before the horn, Barnard potted her third score of the day on an unassisted strike to make it 6-1 at intermission.
Building on their lead to start the second half, the Panthers rattled off a 4-0 run through the first nine minutes behind goals from Henley Hall, Jenna McNicholas, McDonagh (free position) and Nicholas (woman-up) to set the score at 10-1.
Looking to claw back into the game late, Hannah Fox '20 sparked a 3-0 run for the Mammoths, and a 4-1 run to close out the game, with 12:24 on the clock. Undeterred by a save on her free position attempt, Fox scooped up the rebound and sent a follow-up attempt over the goal line.
Making it 10-3 six minutes later, senior Dani DiTommaso corralled a pass at the top left of the 12-meter arc, put her shoulder down and drove past her defender before sending a shot into the bottom left corner of the net.
Striking once again 24 seconds later, Leah Ritterband '21 bounced a free position shot over the shoulder of the Panthers' netmidner to pull Amherst within six with time winding down.
A Barnard score with an assist from Kirsten Murphy at the 4:33 mark made it 11-4 and proved to be Middlebury's last goal of the contest.
What stood as the final goal of the game came with 41 seconds remaining as Kelly Siebert '20 gathered the ball at the Amherst goal line before running 60 yards downfield and dishing a pass to a wide-open Maia Noyes '21 behind the defense for the goal.
BY THE NUMBERS
- In between the pipes, Land (12-5) racked up 14 saves for Amherst in the losing effort, while Julia Keith (14-1) made six stops for Middlebury in the win.
- Five different Mammoths found the back of the net in the matchup, while Fox and Land led the team in ground balls with four each. Noyes' four draw controls were a team-high, while Sabrina Solow '19 led Amherst with three caused turnovers.
- The Panthers owned a slight edge in draw controls (10-8), shots (34-18) and ground balls (29-24) and finished just 1-for-11 on free positon shots, while Amherst went 2-for-6 on free positon opportunities.