Williamstown, MA—The Williams College women's lacrosse team (12-3, 7-3 NESCAC) fell to the Middlebury College (11-4, 7-3 NESCAC) 12-4 in the final game of regular season play when the Panthers established a five-goal lead in the first ten minutes of play to start off the momentum that would carry the team through the contest.
Middlebury dominated play through out the first half, leading 9-1 at the end of the period. The panthers quickly gained the lead with three goals in just over five minutes of play. Katie Ritter got the Panthers on the board with an unassisted goal at the 28:39 mark. Over the course of the next twenty-three minutes, Panthers Alli Sciaretta and Liza Herzog netted two goals each, and Laurel Pascal netted three goals to give the Panthers an eight-goal lead over the Ephs. Herzog evaded her defender to get open in front of the goal and netted the seventh goal for the Panthers off a feed from Mary O'Connell. Just over thirty seconds later the Panthers scored again in this fashion, this time with a goal from Pascal off a feed from O'Connell once again with 4:04 remaining in the half.
Despite several chances on attack and seven shots, Williams was not able to convert any goals with several stops by goalie Alyssa Palomba for the Panthers. With 1:51 remaining in the half, Rebecca Bell got the Ephs on the board when she charged to the net and fired in a shot. Despite quickly gaining back possession, the Ephs were not able to score again for the half. The Panthers transferred the ball back up to their attacking end, and Ritter netted one last goal following a save by Williams Goalie Ali Piltch as the buzzer signaled the end of the half.
The Panthers continued to dominate the second half play as they pulled their attack out wide and forced the Williams defense to pressure out on ball. The Panthers were able to draw fouls and capitalized on two free positing opportunities to gain a ten-point lead over the Ephs with 18:37 remaining. Following a lengthy run on attack, Bell scored once again for the Ephs off a pass from Rebecca McGovern. The Ephs gained possession following the point, which they maintained despite several failed shots on goal. Finally the Ephs netted a third goal when Stephanie Gallo scored on a free position goal just over six minutes later.
The Panthers continued to hold possession and pass the ball around on attack, though they would not continue to press to goal. Sciaretta scored one last time for the Panther's with 10:17 remaining in the half. The Panthers proceeded to gain possession following the goal, however Molly Belk recovered the ball in the Ephs defensive end and ran it sideline into the attacking end. The Ephs passed the ball around on attack and Hillary Cook netted a bounce shot in front of the goal off a pass from Bridget Malicki with 6:20 remaining in the half. The Ephs had several more attempts on goal, but the Panthers continued to dominate play at their attacking end until time ran out on a Panther victory.
Williams head coach Chris Mason commented, "Middlebury has great ball handlers, and they really did that well today. We really struggle with that so it hurts us against a team as strong as Middlebury. We couldn't get draw control and couldn't get a flow going. And when you they got ahead a couple goals we started rushing things and forcing things that weren't really there, so it just sort of went down hill. We were a little flat, and we are just going to have to play a lot better on Saturday.
Middlebury led with twelve draw controls while the Ephs were only able to win four. Pascal led the Panthers with four goals and Bell led the Ephs with two. Palomba finished the game with eight saves for Middlebury while Piltch had seven for the Ephs.
Williams now moves onto NESCAC tournament play beginning this Saturday April 26th at noon against a team that is still to be determined. Looking toward their first tournament game, Coach Mason said her team will need to "possess the ball better, move it better, and just work better together all over the field."