The 20th-ranked Amherst women's lacrosse team held visiting Middlebury to only one second half goal Thursday evening at Gooding Field, as the Lord Jeffs earned an 8-5 victory to mark their first win over the Panthers since 2003. Amherst improves to 7-3 (4-2 NESCAC), moving into a four-way tie for second place in the NESCAC standings, while 11th-ranked Middlebury falls to 5-5 (3-3 NESCAC) and is now tied for sixth place in the conference. The Panthers will head to fifth-ranked Trinity on Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. game.
The teams alternated goals in a back-and-forth first half, with Middlebury needing only 24 seconds to strike first. Stephanie Gill gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead on an assist from Ellen Halle, marking the fastest goal Middlebury has scored and the quickest Amherst has allowed this season.
Amherst tied the game 1:04 later when Wyatt Davis took a pass from Kelley Trapp netting the equalizer. Gill would get the lead back nearly four minutes later on an unassisted tally for a 2-1 lead. The Jeffs made it a 2-2 game 11:13 into the contest, but the Panthers regained the lead at 3-2 when Michaela Colbert beat the Lord Jeff goalie on an unassisted tally with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Lindsey Moran would break the scoring pattern for Amherst scoring a pair of goals at 20:42 and 24:25 respectively giving the Lord Jeffs their first lead of the game at 4-3. Moran's second tally came immediately after Middlebury came up with a big stop on a free position shot.
The Panthers knotted the score at four apiece before halftime when Sally Ryan put home an unassisted goal after Middlebury forced a turnover deep in their zone with less than three minutes to play. The visitors had a chance to take the lead with two minutes remaining in the half, but Amherst's goalie Lamia Harik stymied Middlebury with a point-blank save.
Kathleen Scheld gave Amherst a 5-4 advantage on a free position attempt 1:37 into the second half, and it would take nearly 20 minutes for the game's next goal. Amherst controlled the tempo and maintained possession during the majority of the scoring drought, forcing Middlebury's goalie Lily Nguyen to come up with a pair of outstanding saves during the stretch.
Marta Randall finally broke through to give Amherst a 6-4 lead with an unassisted score 21:31 into the half, but the Panthers' Chase Delano cut the lead to 6-5 with an unassisted goal two and a half minutes later. It took Davis only 45 seconds to hand momentum right back to Amherst, making it a 7-5 game with 5:12 to play.
The Panthers could not find a solution for Harik and the stingy Amherst defense in the waning moments, and Randall added an insurance goal with 43.3 seconds remaining in regulation to seal the victory.
Davis, Randall, and Moran each had two goals for Amherst. Harik made 10 saves between the pipes to earn her seventh win. Meredith LaRose caused seven turnovers and picked up six ground balls, while Scheld added five ground balls and four caused turnovers. Gill scored her team's first two goals as the only Panther with multiple points on the day. Nguyen made nine saves for the visitors, as Amherst held a slim 21-18 advantage in shots. The Jeffs won the ground ball battle, 24-11.
Middlebury had won each of the past nine meetings and 16 of the past 17, with Amherst's lone win during that stretch coming in the 2003 NCAA title game. The Jeffs had not defeated the Panthers in the regular season since an 11-10 result in 2000. Entering Thursday's game with an 80-5 all-time record in NESCAC play since the conference's championship format began in 2001, Middlebury has dropped three conference games in a season for the first time ever.