In a back-and-forth affair with rainy conditions throughout the afternoon, Castleton University defeated Colby-Sawyer College, 15-13, in the semifinals of the 2017 North Atlantic Conference Women's Lacrosse Tournament Sunday at Spartan Stadium.
With the victory, Castleton improves to 11-6 and advances to the championship game, which it will host next Saturday, May 6, with the start time to be determined. Colby-Sawyer's season ends at 10-7.
The Chargers jumped on the board 30 seconds into the contest on a goal by Grace Vosburgh (Ludlow, Vt.), but Ashley Pelkey (Barre, Vt.) scored consecutive goals to give Castleton an early 2-1 lead. Just 20 seconds after Pelkey's second goal, Nicole Lavigne (Berlin, Vt.) started her offensive attack with a goal that tied the game at 2-2.
After a goal by Nadine Downing (Cortland, N.Y.) halfway through the first half put the Spartans back on top, Lavigne converted back-to-back free position attempts 19 seconds apart to give the Chargers a 4-3 lead. Two minutes later, Emily Cross (Shaftsbury, Vt.) scored for Castleton, and then the two teams exchanged goals in the final minute to enter halftime tied at 5-5.
Castleton scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the second half, with Grace Johnson (South Burlington, Vt.) assisting on Tiffany Danyow's (Middlebury, Vt.) goal and then scoring two goals of her own.
Over the next seven-and-a-half minutes, Colby-Sawyer scored four unanswered goals, two of them by Lavigne with Brittany Ireland (Amherst, N.H.) contributing an assist as well as the goal that put the Chargers ahead, 9-8, with 14:42 remaining in the second half. Castleton took the lead for good on consecutive free position goals by Pelkey and Danyow, with Katie Feeney (Johnson, Vt.) contributing a shorthanded goal to extend the Spartan advantage to 11-9 with 9:25 left in regulation.
Danyow scored three goals in the span of over four-and-a-half minutes, the last two off assists by Cross, to give Castleton its biggest lead of the game at 15-11 with 1:51 remaining in the second half. Lavigne attempted to bring the Chargers back, scoring two goals in an 18-second span, but a shot by Lavigne with 1:06 left on the clock went wide, Castleton gained possession, and the Spartans ran the clock out after a successful clear attempt.
Danyow tied her career-high for goals with five, as did Pelkey with four goals. Johnson finished with three goals and one assist as well as three critical draw controls late in the second half. Samantha Hebb (Ashland, Mass.) made two saves as she played the first 50:49 in net for the Spartans, and she was helped on defense by Erin McKenna (York, Maine) with three ground balls and three caused turnovers.
Lavigne finished the game with eight goals and two assists for 10 total points, plus she led all players with seven draw controls. Ireland earned a goal and an assist as well as four ground balls. Meghan Castellano (Wallingford, Conn.) kept Colby-Sawyer in the match by making 13 saves as Castleton outshot the Chargers, 41-19.
Castleton will face New England College after the Pilgrims defeated Maine-Farmington, 8-7, in the other semifinal game. The Spartans will attempt next Saturday to win their sixth consecutive NAC Tournament title and earn the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Courtesy: Castleton Athletics
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