The Middlebury College women's lacrosse team heads to Salem, Virginia this weekend for the NCAA Semifinals, as the fourth-ranked Panthers (19-2) square off against top-ranked The College of New Jersey (20-2) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The other contest at Kerr Stadium features #2 Salisbury vs. #3 Gettysburg at 11:30 a.m. The winners of Saturday's games will battle Sunday at 2:00 p.m. for the national championship.
Middlebury earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, claiming its ninth NESCAC title with a 13-10 triumph over Bowdoin. Last weekend, the Panthers used a key 7-0 run in the second half to overcome a 9-4 deficit for an 11-10 triumph over eighth-ranked York (Pa.). The previous day, Middlebury handled Illinois Wesleyan 18-4. The Panthers began tournament play in the second round, posting an 18-5 victory over Babson.
Middlebury is making its 24th NCAA Tournament appearance and enter the weekend with a record of 60-17 in NCAA play since they first qualified for the tourney in 1994. Their .779 NCAA winning percentage is higher than all but one team (The College of New Jersey) in the history of Division III lacrosse. Middlebury won NCAA titles in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2016, advancing to the final four every year from 1994-2007 (14 years). The Panthers returned to the final four in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
Middlebury opened the season with six-straight victories and enters the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament on a 10-game winning streak. The Panther offense is second in the NESCAC, averaging 13.81 goals/contest and leads the conference in ground balls with 483. The Panthers boast the top scoring defense in the league, allowing just 6.86 goals per game and are first in caused turnovers with 269.
Junior Emma McDonagh leads the offensive attack, earning her first all-conference and all-region accolades this season. The third-year attack leads the team in points (67) and goals (47), while her 20 assists are second. Her 20 helpers are sixth in the conference ranks, while her 67 points are tied for third. McDonagh has recorded at least one point in every game this season, including an eight-point output (5-3-8) at Tufts. She enters the national semifinal game with 99 career goals.
Senior Georgia Carroll is also a first-team All-NESCAC and all-region honoree. The captain ranks second on the Panthers with 38 goals and 56 points, while her 18 assists are third. She opened the season with a seven-point effort (3-4-7) in a win at Bates. Carroll has tallied three or more points 10 times, including a career-high five-goal performance in the NESCAC Quarterfinal win over Hamilton.
First-year player Kirsten Murphy earned first-team all-region accolades for the Panthers. The rookie attacker paces the squad and ranks second in the NESCAC with 25 assists, while her 51 points are third and 26 goals are fourth among her teammates. Murphy recorded a career-best seven points on three goals and four assists in the NESCAC Quarterfinal victory over Hamilton.
Senior Hollis Perticone, the 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year and two-time all-conference selection, is also a two-time all-region selection. The captain leads the team and the league with a career-best 134 draw controls, including a career-high 12 earlier this season against Colby. She enters the weekend with 299 career draw controls. The 2017 IWLCA Division III Midfielder of the Year and First-Team All-American ranks third on the team in goals (33), tied for fourth in caused turnovers (26) and fourth in points (40), while her 30 ground balls are fifth. Her 11 free-position goals place her second on the squad.
Defensively, senior captain Evie Keating and first-year player Addy Mitchell both garnered post-season honors. They are joined by juniors Susanna Baker and Alex White. The Panther defensive unit has limited opponents to a league-leading 6.86 goals against average, holding the opposition 10 goals or less in 18 of 21 games. The Panthers have also allowed five or less goals 10 times this season.
Keating is a three-time all-conference honoree and three-time first-team all-region selection. The two-time All-American has picked up 48 ground balls to rank second on the team and fourth in the league. Keating's 40 caused turnovers are tied for first in the conference despite missing six games.
Mitchell was named to the all-region and All-NESCAC second team. She has started all 21 contests this season, and is tied for the NESCAC lead with Keating with 40 caused turnovers. Her 42 ground balls are third on the squad and are tied for seventh in the conference. Mitchell posted a season-best five ground balls in the win at Tufts as well as the NESCAC Quarterfinal win over Hamilton, while causing six turnovers in a victory at Bowdoin in late March.
White scooped up three ground balls in the regional final against York, giving her a team-leading 51. Baker is second on the squad with 27 caused turnovers.
In goal, Junior Kate Furber returned from injury in mid-April and started each of the team's three games in the NCAA Tournament. She owns a 5-1 record this season with a 7.78 GAA in nine games played. Sophomore Julia Keith has a 14-1 record and leads the NESCAC with a 6.66 GAA.
Middlebury head coach Kate Livesay is in her third season at the helm of the program. In her first year, she led the team to its first NCAA Championship since 2004, with a school-record 22 wins against just one loss. This season, her team has been ranked in the top 10 all year, entering the weekend with a 19-2 mark. Livesay came to Middlebury from Trinity, where she served as the head coach for eight seasons, amassing a career record of 127-26 (.830), including the 2012 NCAA Championship. In three seasons at Middlebury, she is 57-8.
2018 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Semifinals
Saturday, May 26 – Salem, Va.
#3 Gettysburg (19-2) vs.– #2 Salisbury (21-1) 11:30 a.m.
#4 Middlebury (19-2) vs. #1 TCNJ (20-2) 2:30 p.m.
2018 NCAA Women's Lacrosse National Championship
Sunday, May 27 – Salem, Va.
Gettysburg/Salisbury winner vs. Middlebury/TCNJ winner– 2:00 p.m.