Late Goal Lifts Middlebury Past Colby in NCAA Second Round

Jenna McNicholas scored the game-winner with 21.7 seconds remaining.
Jenna McNicholas scored the game-winner with 21.7 seconds remaining.

Middlebury's Jenna McNicholas scored the game-winner with 21.7 seconds remaining, lifting the eighth-ranked Panthers (15-4) to a 10-9 win over third-ranked Colby in an NCAA second-round game on Kohn Field. Middlebury will face Brockport in an NCAA Regional game, while host The College of New Jersey meets Mount Union in the other half of the bracket. The Mules finish their season with a 16-4 mark.

The teams exchanged the first seven goals of the half, leaving the Panthers with a 4-3 lead on a free-position goal from Emma McDonagh with 6:28 remaining.

Colby came out strong in the second 30 minutes, tying the game on a goal from Gemma Bready one minute into the half. Emilie Klein gave the Mules their first lead of the game at the 25:57 mark, converting a pass from Kendall Smith.

Middlebury ended the brief run just 15 seconds later, when Mary O'Connell converted a quick feed from McDonagh, who had just won the draw. Colby responded with the game's next three goals, taking an 8-5 lead with 23:19 remaining. Smith scored after a nice deke move down low. Maddie Hatch found the back of the net after a feed from Sasha Fritts, before Smith beat a defender and scored in traffic.

The Panthers responded with a three-goal run of their own, knotting the game at 8-8 with 12:00 left to play. McDonagh opened the spurt with a free-position goal, before scoring again with a player advantage on a dish from behind the net by O'Connell. Emma Johns came off the bench to score her first career tally to cap the run, converting a quick-stick goal on a pass from Sara DiCenso.

The Mules went back on top with 6:38 on the clock when Bready cut down the middle before taking a feed from Lexie Perticone for the 9-8 advantage.

Middlebury tied the game for the seventh time when O'Connell took advantage of a turnover and scored with a side-arm shot cutting to the middle.

The Panthers won the ensuing draw before a shot was saved, giving Colby possession. McDonagh forced a turnover on the Mules' clearing attempt, giving Middlebury the ball with just over a minute remaining.

O'Connell found McNicholas cutting to the middle, before she quickly turned and fired the game-winner into the back of the net with 21.7 seconds on the clock.

McDonagh led Middlebury with four goals and one assist, going 3-4 in free-position attempts. O'Connell finished with two goals and three assists, while DiCenso dished out a pair of helpers. Evie Keating earned a team-high five ground balls and four caused turnovers. Kate Furber made six saves in goal to pick up the win. O'Connell's five points give her 238 for her career, tying her with Kristin Hanley for third all-time at Middlebury.

Smith and Bready each scored three times for Colby, Klein added a pair, while Perticone earned three assists. Kelsey Otley caused four turnovers and scooped up three ground balls for the Mules. Izzy Scribano made 10 saves in the Colby net.

This was the third meeting between the schools this season, with Colby capturing the regular-season meeting 9-6 and the NESCAC semifinals, 10-9.