Defense shines in No. 24 women’s lacrosse NESCAC loss

Gabby O'Brien '19 (Josh McKee photo)
Gabby O'Brien '19 (Josh McKee photo)

Middlebury College won 18 of 24 draw controls and the nationally ranked No. 3 Panthers posted a 13-9 NESCAC win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Hamilton's Steuben Field on Sunday afternoon.

Hamilton (5-7, 2-7 NESCAC) is ranked 24th in the most recent Division III Top 25 coaches poll. Seven of the Continentals' nine conference opponents so far this year were nationally ranked. Hamilton hosts No. 17 William Smith for a non-conference game on Wednesday, April 17 at 6 p.m. on Withiam Field.

Led by Hannah Burrall '19, Kara Pooley '19 and Gabby O'Brien '19, Hamilton's defensive effort forced Middlebury to turn the ball over a season-high 30 times, including one possession clock violation in each half. The Panthers average only 15.36 turnovers per game, which is second in the NESCAC and 17th in Division III. Additionally, the Continentals had a 27-21 edge in ground balls. Burrall (10 saves) caused five turnovers with seven ground balls, Pooley caused a career-high seven turnovers and O'Brien caused four and scooped up six ground balls, both career highs.

Pooley, Tessa Ryan '21 and Olivia Seymour '22 scored two goals each, and Skyler Simson '20 chipped in one goal and one assist.

Emma McDonagh and Jenna McNicholas scored four goals apiece for Middlebury (12-1, 7-1). McDonagh caused two turnovers and McNicholas grabbed two ground balls. Jane Earley scored three goals and passed out four assists, and Erica Barr won five draws, scooped up three ground balls and caused two turnovers. Erin Nicholas had eight draw controls, Addy Mitchell had four ground balls and two caused turnovers, and Alex White had four ground balls. Julia Keith and Kate Furber split the game in goal and made two saves apeice.

Earley gave Middlebury a 1-0 lead at 27:22 before Pooley responded with an unassisted goal at 22:57 that tied the score. The Panthers built a 4-1 lead with three unanswered goals by McNicholas, Earley and McDonagh.

Simson broke Middlebury's run with 15:29 left when she scored her 17th. Sarah Moore '22 controlled the ball outside the arc and sailed a pass through the defenders to Simson in front of the net. She spun around and fired the ball into the upper-right corner of the goal.

Ryan made it a two-goal game at 6-4 with 5:30 remaining in the opening half. Seymour grabbed the ball behind the net and passed to Ryan at the top of the arc. Ryan maneuvered around the first defender and split the next two for a low shot inside the back post. Middlebury gained back its three-goal edge 59 seconds before the half and nearly had a four-goal cushion, but Burrall came up with the save and quickly launched the ball to Simson at midfield. Simson outraced a defender, cut towards the top of the arc, and passed to Tatiana Bradley '19 at the near post for a goal with 10 seconds remaining. The Panthers led 7-5 at halftime.

Middlebury opened the second half with back-to-back goals in the first four minutes and led by at least three the rest of the way.