Women’s lacrosse wins OT thriller, advances to NESCAC semifinals

On a beautiful Saturday in Waterville, the Colby women’s lacrosse team hosted the Wesleyan Cardinals in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Cardinals, who had won five of their last six games, had the hot hand to start as they quickly went up 3-0. Wesleyan’s Meredith Smith scored just over two minutes into the game, then scored again on a free-position goal three minutes later. Wesleyan scored their third goal 9:44 into the game. This goal was the wake-up call that the Mules needed. Just 52 seconds later, Maddie Hatch ’18 scored off of an assist from Tri-Captain Lexie Perticone ’17. Following this early onslaught, both teams settled into their defenses and each only gave up one free-position goal until Grace Crowell ’20 scored unassisted. This was the first of three straight goals for the Mules as Perticone assisted Sasha Fritts ’18 and Tri-Captain Emilie Klein ’17 to give Colby a 5-4 lead. It looked like Colby would maintain this lead into halftime, but with just 26 seconds on the clock Wesleyan’s Rachel Aronow scored to tie the game up.

Colby struck first in the second half as Klein assisted Fritts to put the Mules up 6-5. However, just over a minute later the Cardinal’s Smith scored her fourth goal to tie the game up. With a little under eight minutes left Wesleyan was able to strike again to retake the lead. Facing elimination with a loss, Hatch assisted Gemma Bready ’17 to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:35 remaining. With so little time left and both teams’ seasons on the line the game turned into a frantic struggle to see who could score first. Ultimately this caused both teams to play poorly as the teams combined for seven fouls and five turnovers. Neither team managed to score in regulation.

Overtime in women’s lacrosse is only six minutes long and sudden death. A defensive error by either team could be the end of their season. With this in mind, both teams picked up the defensive intensity. Wesleyan won the draw, but Klein forced the turnover to give possession to the Mules. 30 seconds later, Wesleyan’s Abby Manning forced another turnover on Crowell, and Wesleyan called a timeout. There were four minutes remaining. Coming out of the timeout, Crowell, who had just lost the ball, had a spectacular one-on-one defensive stand as she forced the turnover and recovered the ground ball. Colby advanced, and Hatch was able to get a shot off. Though Wesleyan’s goalie, Grace McCann, saved the shot, Hatch was fouled and had a free-position attempt. Noting that McCann had been successful at saving low shots all day, Hatch went high and netted the game-winner with 2:55 into the overtime period to secure the Mules eleventh straight win.

The Mules, who were seeded fourth in the NESCAC, will visit top-seed Middlebury next Saturday at noon in the semifinals. Should they win, they will play either Hamilton or Trinity Sunday for the NESCAC Championship.