Panthers End Bullets' National Title Defense, 15-9
Hannah Church, Gettysburg (photo by David Sinclair)
Middlebury 15, Gettysburg 9
Gettysburg College's reign at the top of the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse world came to an official end Sunday at Clark Field as Middlebury College knocked the defending national champions out of the postseason with a 15-9 victory in the regional championship game.
With the victory, sixth-ranked Middlebury (15-4) advances to face top-ranked and unbeaten Salisbury University (21-0) in the national semifinals on Saturday, May 19, at 1 p.m. on the campus of Montclair State University. The other national semifinal will pit SUNY Cortland (20-1) against Trinity (Conn.) College (19-1) at 4 p.m.
Gettysburg, ranked No. 3 in the latest national poll, closes the season with a 19-2 overall record, tying the second-best season mark in school history. Senior Hannah Church led the Bullets with two goals and two assists and junior Lindsey Robinson logged one goal and two helpers.
The goalies set an early tone for the game with big saves in the opening minutes. After controlling the opening draw, Gettysburg went on the attack with Robinson coming up empty against Middlebury keeper Lily Nguyen just 26 seconds into the game.
Senior Maddie Coleman came right back on the other end of the field, stopping Michaela Colbert's free-position shot at 28:10. Gettysburg charged down the length of the field and challenged Nguyen again, but Robinson hit the crossbar and the very next attempt by freshman Bridget Kenny was put down by the Panther keeper.
The visitors finally found pay-dirt almost 10 minutes into the contest as Colbert connected on her second free-position attempt at 20:27.
The Bullets didn't let the lead last long, converting on a pair of man-up opportunities. Kenny tallied the first goal off a feed from Church at 17:45, and just 1:22 later, Robinson found sophomore Bailey Beardsley to make it 2-1. Middlebury wasted less than a minute in retaliating as Elizabeth Garry connected on another free-position attempt at 15:38 to tie the game.
Gettysburg turned in its largest lead of the game with back-to-back tallies by sophomore Loren Pruitt and Church to put the advantage at 4-2 with 9:26 to play.
The Panthers quickly regained the upper-hand, however, with the next four goals, including three off free-position attempts. Garry gave the visitors a 6-4 lead with her third goal of the half at 5:24. Kenny sliced the deficit to one with another man-up goal for Gettysburg, but Liza Herzog scored with just 12 ticks left in the half to set the score at 7-5.
The level of intensity grew exponentially in the second half as the hosts attempted to overcome the deficit. Each time the Bullets found the back of the net, the Panthers had an answer. After Robinson pulled Gettysburg to 9-8 at 16:22, Emma Kramer scored yet another free-position tally to push the lead back to two halfway through the final period.
With Middlebury receiving another yellow card, the Bullets pushed their player advantage and scored their fourth man-up goal of the day as Pruitt connected on a free-position shot to pull the score to 10-9 with over 12 minutes remaining.
After standing even off the draw for the majority of the game, the Panthers stepped up in the final 15 minutes and won four consecutive draw controls. Middlebury turned a pair of three-minute possessions into goals with Garry giving the team a 12-9 lead with 6:12 to play.
Gettysburg forced a turnover on Middlebury's next possession, but the Bullets came up empty as Lucy Jackson knocked the ball away from Robinson and came up with the ground ball. Katie Ritter turned in a man-up goal on a free-position shot with 3:56 to play to push the lead to four.
Facing elimination, the Bullets pressed on the defensive end, pulling the goalie to force double teams on the ball. The Panthers made the hosts pay, netting two easy goals in the final minutes.
Middlebury held the advantage in shots (29-27), ground balls (18-9), and draw controls (14-12). The Panthers scored seven free-position goals on 14 attempts, both season highs against Gettysburg's defense.
Church's four-point day gave her 272 for her career and pushed her into a tie for third on Gettysburg's all-time list. She also closed her career second in goals (210) and 10th in assists (62). Coleman finished the day with 10 saves and closed her tenure with 304 stops. She wrapped up her career in goal ranked sixth in career save percentage (.531) and second in goals against average (7.37). Gettysburg's only other remaining senior, Lexi Kelly, posted one ground ball in the game.
Pruitt and Kenny each finished with two goals, the latter adding three draw controls. Junior Hayward Sawers recorded one assist, two ground balls, and three draw controls.
Nguyen finished with nine saves for Middlebury. Garry connected on four goals, including three of the free-position variety. Herzog netted three goals, and Margaret Souther and Colbert each posted two. Herzog added four draw controls and four ground balls, while Catherine Fowler picked up five draw controls.