Big First Half Leads #16 Williams Past Top-Ranked Middlebury

Erin Nicholas scored both goals on Tuesday at Williams.
Erin Nicholas scored both goals on Tuesday at Williams.

A four-goal first-half output lifted 16th-ranked Williams to a 4-2 NESCAC victory Tuesday over Middlebury on a cool and rainy Williamson Field. The top-ranked Panthers (14-1, 9-1) see their 30-game winning streak snapped, dating back to September 27, 2017. They will be the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament and will host a quarterfinal game on Saturday. Williams (11-4, 7-3) will also host a quarterfinal contest on Saturday.

During the high-scoring opening half, the Ephs got on the scoreboard first at the 11:39 mark. Libby Dolan spun in front of the goal before backhanding a shot into the right side of the cage. The hosts doubled their lead four minutes later when Emma Ticknor redirected a shot, before she made it 3-0 three minutes later, tapping in a ball from four yards away.

The Panthers sliced into the deficit in the 23rd minute when Erin Nicholas collected an errant ball just outside the 25-yard line, took a couple dribbles to her right and blasted a hard, low shot into the left side of the goal.  

Williams pushed its lead back to three (4-1) when Ticknor completed her hat trick on a loose ball as part of a penalty corner at the 28:11 mark.

After the halftime break, the hosts had their best scoring opportunity when Meredith Wright ripped a shot from the top of the arc on a penalty corner, but Panther goalie Megan Collins kicked it away with her right pad.

Turning up their offensive pressure with consecutive penalty corners, the Panthers cut the deficit to 4-2 at 57:30. Nicholas fired a shot into the right side of the goal for her second score of the game and team-leading 11th of the season.

Neither team produced any scoring threats over the final minutes, as the Ephs hung on for the 4-2 victory.

Collins ended her night with a pair of saves for the Panthers, while Emma Santucci finished with two stops during the opening half. Abby Lloyd tallied five saves in the final stanza for Williams.

Middlebury finished with a narrow 10-8 advantage in shots and held an 8-4 edge in penalty corners.