Women's lacrosse advances to NESCAC semifinals for 3rd time

Casey File '17 (Josh McKee photo)
Casey File '17 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College's Casey File '17 tied a career high with four goals and the Continentals posted a 12-9 win against the Bowdoin College Polar Bears in a 2017 NESCAC Women's Lacrosse Championship quarterfinal at Hamilton's Steuben Field on Saturday afternoon.

The Continentals (12-4 overall) advance to the NESCAC championship semifinals for the third time since they joined the conference for lacrosse in 2012. Hamilton will play Trinity College at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt., on Saturday, May 6 at 2:30 p.m. The Continentals are seeded second in the championship and ranked ninth in the latest Division III Top 20 coaches poll. Hamilton has won six straight and 11 of its last 12.

Bowdoin (10-6) and the Continentals have met twice in this event and Hamilton has won both times. The Continentals also got the best of the Polar Bears down in Florida by a 12-7 score back on March 16. Hamilton has won three in a row in the all-time series against Bowdoin.

Darby Philbrick '18 chipped in three goals and an assist for the Continentals. Philbrick leads the team with 30 goals. Nora Klemmer '17 contributed two goals and a helper and Morgan Fletcher '17 and Kara Pooley '19 finished with a goal and an assist apiece. Fletcher has team highs of 15 assists and 40 points. Pooley and Fletcher caused three turnovers apiece and Maddie Fitzpatrick '18 scooped up four ground balls. Hannah Burrall '19 started in goal and made two saves in the first half. Hannah Rubin '17 relieved Burrall at the start of the second half and finished with three stops.

The Polar Bears are the seventh seed for the championship and ranked 16th in the coaches poll. Bowdoin had a 9-2 record on April 9 but dropped four of its last five games. The Polar Bears were making their 14th appearance in the NESCAC championship and their record dipped to 7-14 in this event.

Kelsey Gallagher paced Bowdoin with four goals and an assist. Gallagher tops the team with 20 assists and 54 points. Kara Finnerty contributed two goals and a helper and Mettler Growney had a goal and an assist. Finnerty added three ground balls and three draw controls and Anisa LaRochelle picked up three ground balls as well. Caroline Maxwell and Kate McAloon won three draws apiece as the Polar Bears finished with a 13-10 advantage in the category. Kayli Weiss was credited with eight saves.

Hamilton scored the first five goals and Bowdoin never quite recovered. File scored the first goal and the fifth goal and Fletcher recorded both of her points during the game-opening run. Fletcher found File for the 5-0 lead with 13:38 left. Less than a minute before, Fitzpatrick carried the ball upfield on a successful clear, and the defender didn't stop until she put a shot into the back of the net for her first goal with the Continentals.

The Polar Bears roared back with four straight goals that spanned the end of the first half and the start of the second and cut Hamilton's lead to 5-4. Gallagher scored twice in the last 80 seconds of the half and the Continentals took a 5-2 lead into the break. Gallagher found Finnerty for another goal 53 seconds into the second half and Gallagher scored on a free-position shot with 21:18 remaining.

Hamilton quickly increased its lead back up to three at 7-4. Philbrick won the draw and passed to File for the Continentals' sixth goal just 12 seconds after Bowdoin had pulled to within one. Hamilton again won the ensuing draw and Klemmer scored with 20:38 to go.

The Polar Bears didn't get closer than two goals the rest of the way as the teams alternated scoring the last 10 goals. McAloon made it 8-6 with 18:17 left but Klemmer restored the Continentals' three-goal cushion on her 21st with 15:29 remaining. Growney scored a free-position goal with 9:36 to go and it was 9-7.

Hamilton's defense stiffened down the stretch as Bowdoin managed just two shots and committed four turnovers during the next eight minutes. Finally, the Polar Bears pulled Weiss for an extra attacker with three minutes to go. The move led to a wild final 63 seconds during which five goals were scored.

File tallied her 24th goal with a free-position shot on an empty net with 1:03 left. Gallagher made it 10-8 with 47 seconds remaining but Bowdoin ran out of time as Philbrick scored into an empty net with 35.7 and 4.5 seconds to go.