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D3 Lacrosse: Middlebury Captures The 2019 NCAA D3 Women’s Championship

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Middlebury College’s Emma McDonagh netted four goals in her team’s 14-9 win on Sunday over Salisbury University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Will Costello – WillCImages)

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Behind a combined eight goals and one assist from Jane Earley and Emma McDonagh, the Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team captured its seventh NCAA Division III national championship this afternoon with a 14-9 win over Salisbury University.

With the win, the Panthers conclude their 2019 campaign with an impressive 22-1 record, which includes the nation’s longest winning streak of 22-straight victories dating back to a 16-1 win over Springfield College on Friday, March 8, 2019.

Middlebury began Sunday’s championship by racing out to a 3-0 lead before constructing a five-goal run minutes later as the Panthers entered the break leading Salisbury, 8-4.

Salisbury trimmed the deficit early in the second half with goals from Alexis Strobel, Lydia McNulty, and Emma Skoglund before McDonagh halted the three-goal burst with an unassisted strike with 14:50 remaining.

Kirsten Murphy helped Middlebury push ahead, 11-7, on a free position attempt with 12:03 remaining, but Salisbury responded with a strike from Courtney Fegan that was set-up by McNulty with 10:23 remaining.

The Panthers would counter with a trio of goals, including a pair from McDonagh before Skoglund netted the Sea Gulls’ final goal of the contest with 46 seconds remaining.

Sunday’s championship, which was held in Ashland, Virginia, was halted with 3:10 remaining in the second half due to inclement weather. The delay lasted roughly one hour before the game resumed around 5:40 p.m. eastern time.

Middlebury secured a date with Salisbury by defeating Wesleyan University, 16-8, in yesterday’s NCAA Division III semifinals. The Sea Gulls punched their ticket to the title game with an exciting 14-11 win over Tufts University.

Julia Keith scored her 20th win between the pipes with nine saves on 18 shots, while Salisbury’s Skye Graham concluded the contest with five saves on 19 shots.

Middlebury concluded the game with 14 draw controls, while Salisbury scooped a game-high 18 ground balls.

Sunday’s win provided coach Kate Livesay with her third national championship, including her second with Middlebury. Livesay guided the Panthers to their sixth national championship in 2016 when the Blue and White beat Trinity College, 9-5.

Livesay earned her initial Division III women’s lacrosse crown on the sidelines in 2012 when she led the Bantams of Trinity to an 8-7 win over Salisbury.

D3 Lacrosse Notebook: What We Learned From The Women’s Tournament

NS Lacrosse Notebook

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

The first weekend of the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse tournament is in the books, which means its time to focus our attention on next weekend’s third round and quarterfinals.

Similar to our men’s lacrosse notebook from yesterday, here are a few thoughts and takeaways from the opening weekend, which saw a few New England teams advance to the third round.

Keep your eyes on Tufts University: The Jumbos recorded their second shutout of the season on Sunday with an 18-0 win over Plymouth State to bump their overall mark to 17-2.

Tufts has become one of my teams to watch in this spring, especially after an impressive regular season, which saw the Powder Blue and White lose just once before falling to Middlebury College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship.

The Jumbos have what it takes to advance to championship weekend, but face a tough task this Saturday against a talented TCNJ squad, which outlasted Colby College on Sunday in its second-round match-up.

TCNJ lost to Tufts earlier this season but rebounded with some important New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) wins, including a conference championship victory against Rowan University.

The Lions advanced to the semifinals last season but fell to Middlebury Colleg after beating Bowdoin CollegeFranklin & Marshall, and William Smith in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

If the Jumbos are going to beat the Lions and advance to the sectional finals, they will need a big performance from Emily Games (67 points on 52 goals and 15 assists) and Colette Smith (54 points on 40 goals and 14 assists).

Smith netted the clincher late in the second half in Tufts’ initial meeting with TCNJ, which helped the Jumbos squeak out an exciting 8-7 victory.

If Tufts defeats the Lions on Saturday, they will then need to duplicate their performance against the winner of St. John Fisher versus York College (Pa.).

Middlebury to meet Bowdoin in Third Round: After falling to Bates College in its season-opener, the Panthers of Middlebury have ripped off 18-straight wins, including a 22-3 second-round win over Johnson & Wales.

Middlebury will attempt to stretch its winning streak to 19 when they host Bowdoin College on Saturday.

Similar to Middlebury, the Polar Bear secured a first-round bye and defeated William Smith, 13-5, thanks to six points (five goals and one assist) from Fiona Bundy and five points (four goals and one assist) by Katie Miller.

Bowdoin’s Erin Morrissey and Aaliyah Biondo combined for seven saves on 12 shots in the team’s 10th win over the Herons.

Earlier this season, the Panthers outlasted the Polar Bears, 21-18, so don’t expect Middlebury to run away from Bowdoin on Saturday.

Middlebury outscored Bowdoin, 12-8, in the opening session of their lone match-up in March, while the Polar Bears outscored the Panthers in the second half, 10-9. Bowdoin led Middlebury, 8-3, in the first half, but surrendered a nine-goal run that provided the visitors with a four-goal lead at the break.

Jane Earley helped Middlebury beat Bowdoin by netting a team-high five goals, so she will certainly be needed again in this match-up, especially if the Panthers would like to advance to Sunday’s sectional final.

The winner of Bowdoin-Middlebury will advance to semifinals – I think they both can defeat Illinois Wesleyan or Franklin & Marshall.

Which New England team will advance to the national semifinals?

I still believe Tufts has a chance to compete for a national crown over Memorial Day Weekend, but they must get past TCNJ, which will certainly be a tough test for the Powder Blue and White.

Bowdoin or Middlebury certainly have what it takes to advance to the semifinals, too – I would say Middlebury first, Bowdoin second – but I wouldn’t overlook Wesleyan University, as well.

Wesleyan, however, faces a really challenging path to the semifinals as they would need to beat Washington & Lee on Saturday followed by most likely Gettysburg College, which is scheduled to face Denison University in the third round.

Similar to Tufts, I have enjoyed following Wesleyan this spring, so if they somehow find a way to the semifinals, then I think they can make it to the championship round.

Amherst College may have an easier path to the semifinals, but they will need to play their best lacrosse against Catholic University on Saturday in order to secure a sectional final meeting with either Colorado College or Salisbury University.

D3 Lax Notebook: Amherst, Tufts & Williams Advance To Quarterfinals

NS Lacrosse Notebook

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

Three rounds of the 2019 NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse tournament are in the books, which means its time to turn our attention to the quarterfinals.

This year, three of the eight teams competing in the quarterfinals happen to hail from Massachusetts and compete in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). 

Amherst College, which defeated last year’s national champion Wesleyan University, will face Tufts University, while Williams College secured a date with RIT. Both games, along with the two other quarterfinals – Salisbury University versus Denison University and York College (Pa.) versus Cabrini University – will be played Wednesday, May 15th.

The four quarterfinal winners will advance to next Sunday’s (May 19th) semifinals followed by the championship game one week later (Sunday, May 26th) at 4 p.m. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Let’s learn more about the three Massachusetts teams that will be competing this week in the quarterfinals.

Amherst College (16-3, 8-2 NESCAC) 

  • The Mammoths advanced to their first quarterfinals in three seasons with back-to-back postseason wins over Wesleyan (16-13) and Elizabethtown College (21-9).
  • Amherst will enter Wednesday’s meeting with the Jumbos with a 16-3 overall mark, including a 5-1 record on the road. Their lone road loss of the 2019 season came against Williams in April.
  • Evan Wolf leads the Mammoths with 107 points on 69 goals and 38 assists, while Colin Minicus ranks first on the team with 44 assists.
  • Juan Gonzalez leads the unit in face-off wins (171), while Dylan Finazzo is second on the team with 83 victories at midfield.
  • Rod Castro has recorded the most caused-turnovers this spring, tallying 36 in 17 contests.
  • Gib Versfeld secured his third win between the pipes on Saturday against Wesleyan – he will enter Wednesday’s contest with a 3-2 mark between the pipes, along with a 56.4 save percentage.
  • Amherst lost to Tufts earlier this spring by a score of 15-14. The Mammoths outscored the Jumbos, 11-5, in the second half, including 5-1 in the final quarter.
  • Through 19 games this spring, Amherst has averaged 18.37 goals per game.

Tufts University (19-1, 9-1 NESCAC) 

  • The Jumbos secured a date with the Mammoths on Wednesday by cruising past New England College (24-7) and Stevenson University (19-4).
  • Tufts will enter Wednesday’s clash with the Mammoths riding a nine-game winning streak, which includes a pair of NESCAC Tournament overtime wins against Middlebury College (14-13) and Williams (17-16).
  • As a team, Tufts has netted 356 goals, including 74 markers in the month of May.
  • Tufts is averaging 18.5 goals per game in May, which is roughly one more than their season average of 17.80 goals through 20 games.
  • Danny Murphy has enjoyed a successful final season with the Powder Blue and White, tallying 88 points on 47 goals and 41 assists, while Max Waldbaum has contributed 78 points on 67 goals and 11 assists.
  • Kyle Helfrich has scooped an impressive 148 ground balls this spring while winning 248 of 441 face-offs.
  • Mason Pollack and Joe Theuer have combined for 19 wins between the pipes and 260 saves, which is an average of 13.68 saves per game between the two goalies.
  • Tufts edged Amherst, 15-14, earlier this season, which helped the Jumbos go onto secure the top spot in the NESCAC Tournament a few weeks later.
  • The Jumbos have won nine of NESCAC championships in the past 10 seasons.

Williams College (17-3, 8-2 NESCAC) 

  • With their third-round win over St. John Fisher on Saturday, the Ephs have now won 10 games at home this spring with their last home setback occurring last April when they fell to Tufts by a score of 11-8.
  • Saturday’s win over the Cardinals was the team’s 17th victory of the 2019 season, which is the most games any Ephs squad has won in a single-season.
  • Williams defeated Keene State (21-10) last Wednesday in a second-round meeting before scoring a 17-12 win over St. John Fisher three days later.
  • Williams will visit RIT this Wednesday – the Tigers needed its defense down the stretch to defeat Union College, 10-9, in their third-round meeting. With their one-goal win against the Dutchmen on Saturday, RIT has now beaten Union three times this season, including once during the Liberty League (LL) playoffs.
  •  RIT and Williams have met just once on the lacrosse field with the Tigers scoring a 15-10 win over the Ephs on March 28, 2014. The game was played at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Williams is currently 2-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games – their first win in program history came against Keene State last Wednesday.
  • Williams’ first appearance in the NCAA Tournament occurred in 2008 when they lost to Ithaca College, 17-10.
  • Jake Haase leads the Ephs with 93 points on 62 assists and 31 goals, while Cory Lund ranks first on the team with 63 goals.
  • Alex Kitt has won 248 of 422 face-offs while scooping a team-high 132 ground balls.
  • Harry Gahagan has won 17 of 20 games between the pipes this spring. He currently boasts a 10.07 goals allowed average, along with a 53.4 save percentage.

D3 Lacrosse: Wesleyan Wins First-Ever NCAA Championship

fP0ILBHzBy NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

For the first-time in school history, the Wesleyan University men’s lacrosse team captured the national crown, defeating Salisbury University, 8-6, on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in the 2018 NCAA Division III championship.

Harry Stanton capped his impressive four-year career with the Red and Black by netting a pair of goals, while setting-up his team’s final marker late in the third quarter, which provided Wesleyan with an 8-4 lead heading into the final session.

Wesleyan’s defense limited Salisbury to just a pair of goals during the final 15 minutes, while Otto Bohan halted the rally with his final save with 13 seconds remaining.

Bohan concluded the contest with 11 stops – he also ended the season with an impressive 17-2 record between the pipes.

The Cardinals secured a 4-0 lead to begin the game, thanks to goals from Stanton and Carter Hawthorne before Salisbury halted the short spurt with a Zach Pompea strike with two seconds remaining. Salisbury would close the gap with back-to-back markers in the second quarter from Corey Gwin before Stanton netted his final goal with 3:07 remaining in the stanza to provide Wesleyan with a 5-3 lead at the break.

Salisbury would again pull within one goal early in the third as Josh Melton buried a feed from Pierre Armstrong before Taylor Ghesquiere jumpstarted a three-goal run with 8:52 remaining in the session that helped the Cardinals enter the final stanza with an 8-4 advantage.

Wesleyan, which concludes its season at 19-3 overall, scored five impressive postseason wins this month, including a pair of victories against RIT and Tufts University to secure a match-up with the Sea Gulls. Wesleyan attempted to reach the finals last season, but saw their run conclude against the Tigers of RIT.

Noonan: Reflecting On Tufts’ Championship Win & Mass. D3 Lax

The Tufts University men's lacrosse team captured its second NCAA crown on Sunday with a 12-9 win over Salisbury University. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

The Tufts University men’s lacrosse team captured its second NCAA crown on Sunday with a 12-9 win over Salisbury University. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Before the first game of the 2014 college lacrosse season had been recorded, I thought, ‘could a Massachusetts team reach the NCAA semifinals or finals in May?”

The answer: Yes.

Tufts University, one of the teams I was eying at the end of February and early March, captured its second NCAA Division III crown with a 12-9 victory over Salisbury University on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Baltimore Ravens.

The Jumbos concluded the 2014 season as not only champions, but also record-holders in goals (423 goals, a new NCAA single-season record for all divisions) and assists (45 helpers in the postseason, a new NCAA record, too). They also finished with a program-best 21 victories and a 14-game winning streak.

Junior Cole Bailey, who registered a game-high six points on five helpers and one marker, was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player. Bailey was instrumental in helping the Jumbos rally from a 4-1 deficit in the second quarter to claim their second national crown in program history (Tufts defeated Salisbury for its first NCAA crown in 2010, but lost to the Sea Gulls a year later).

“I wouldn’t have that award without the guys who are playing with me,” Bailey told the media following the conclusion of Sunday’s championship. “They set me up for so many successful plays. It’s an honor to play with them, so that’s that.”

Bailey will return next year, but capping their four-year run with the Powder Blue and White were seniors Patton Watkins and Kane Delaney. Watkins, who is the unit’s goaltender, turned away 17 shots, including eight attempts in final stanza. Delaney recorded five ground balls.

“So honored to be a part of this. I couldn’t be happier right now,” Watkins told the media. “I don’t even know what to say. The emotions are just all over the place.

“It was so much fun.”

Tufts head coach Mike Daly, who guided the Jumbos to its fifth-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown earlier this month with a 20-13 win over Amherst College, told the Boston Herald how proud he was of his seniors, as well as each member of the squad.

“I’m certainly proud of this team, all the guys, our senior class,” he said. “It’s an amazing achievement.”

The Jumbos are the only Massachusetts squad to capture the NCAA Division III crown since 1980, according to NCAA.com. Middlebury College – a school from Vermont and one of Tufts’ conference foes – has won a few titles, but hasn’t appeared in the championship since falling to the Sea Gulls in 2005.

While the win may or may not have set in for Daly and his players, this Jumbos squad will certainly be remembered for their high-powered offense, but also their passion for the game of lacrosse.

“The only thing that gets bigger in the second half is our smiles, and just go out there and show everyone how much fun we have playing this game, how much passion this team can play with, and just smile,” Daly said of his team’s halftime chat.

The passion was always on display. Whether they scored a goal or made a great stop on defense, the players exhibited their excitement both on and off the field.

Tufts will certainly be one of the team’s to keep an eye on next season, but so will Amherst, Endicott College, Springfield College and Western New England. And while we continue to eye these programs’ schedules and box scores, let’s also not forget about the remainder of the pack that continues to get stronger.

Becker College and Emmanuel College, two teams from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) should certainly improve next season (The Hawks will be moving to the NECC next spring). The Saints defeated the Hawks in the conference championship, while the Hawks fell short to Salve Regina in the ECAC title match. Both teams are well coached and have players that are excited to build on this particular year.

Other teams to watch include Lasell College, Babson College, Clark University, MIT, Regis College and Wheaton College. All six teams ended their respective campaigns with different marks, but showed signs that they’re going to be a lot better in the future. Babson, Clark, MIT and Wheaton all hail from the NEWMAC, and should certainly provide challenges for the Pride, who has won 56 consecutive conference games.

Also, let’s not forget about Williams College, a squad that defeated the national champions on April 1, but fell to the Jumbos in the NESCAC semifinals. The Ephs rarely played in Williamstown due to construction on their new turf field, but exhibited resiliency in each game and practice.

All in all, it was certainly a fun and exciting season for the local Division III squads. Expect the excitement to continue next season and beyond, but for the time being, let’s also enjoy this particular win for Tufts, as well as Massachusetts.

QUICK NOTE: Quotes from Tufts’ players came from the athletic department’s release on Sunday. 

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