The Middlebury College women's lacrosse team will host an NCAA Regional on Kohn Field on May 18-19. In Saturday's first game at 11:30 a.m., third-ranked Middlebury (18-1) faces #14 Bowdoin (10-7), while #5 Franklin & Marshall (16-4) and Illinois Wesleyan (18-2) play at 2:30 p.m. The winner of Saturday's two games will play Sunday at 1:00 p.m. with a trip to the final four on the line. Tickets are priced at $6 for adults and $3 for students.
Middlebury earned an automatic bid to the tournament, claiming its 10th NESCAC title with a 10-9 come-from-behind victory over #5 Tufts. Last weekend, the Panthers advanced in NCAA play with a 22-3 victory over Johnson & Wales in the second round of the tournament. The Panthers outshot the Wildcats 39-13 in the game, receiving goals from 10 different players. Lily Riseberg paced the winners with five goals and one assist, while Kate Zecca tallied four times with one helper.
The Panthers are making their 25th appearance in the tournament with a record of 61-18 in NCAA play since they first qualified for the tourney in 1994. The program's .772 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.
The Panthers suffered an 11-10 overtime loss in the season opener to Bates, but have been on a roll ever since. Middlebury boasts an 18-game winning streak, which is tied for the longest in Division III, with 12 of those victories coming against ranked opponents. The team's offense ranks third in the NESCAC, scoring 14.00 goals per contest, while boasting the conference's top defense at 6.62 goals allowed per game and is first in caused turnovers at 211.
Attacker Emma McDonagh spearheads the Middlebury offense, leading the team in goals (50), assists (16) and points (66). The two-time All-NESCAC First-Team selection has posted back-to-back 50 goal seasons and ranks fourth in goals and fifth in points in the conference. She has recorded at least one point in 18-19 games this spring, including a six-goal and eight-point effort in a win over Plymouth State.
Emily Barnard is another proven scorer on attack, posting a career-high 38 goals and 53 points. Twice this season, she has scored five times in a contest and in a late-season NESCAC win over Williams, tallied two goals with four assists for a career-high six points. She enters the regional round with 94 career points on 69 goals and 25 assists.
Jane Earley has made an impact in her first season with the Panthers, garnering All-NESCAC Second-Team honors. She ranks third on the team in goals (37), assists (14) and points (51), while adding 35 draw controls and 17 ground balls. Jenna McNicholas is another scoring threat, entering the NCAA Tournament with 24 goals.
Midfielder Erin Nicholas, an All-NESCAC First-Team honoree, has contributed in a number of areas for Middlebury this season. She has a team-high 61 draw controls, 24 caused turnovers, 30 ground balls and her two goals in the win over Johnson & Wales gave her 20 for the season. Erica Barr (44 DC) and Casey O'Neill (36 DC) have also been pivotal in getting possession for the Panthers.
On defense, Addy Mitchell leads the NESCAC in both ground balls (56) and caused turnovers (42), while earning a spot on the all-conference first team. Her 56 ground balls are a program single-season record, while she is two caused turnovers away from a new school mark in that category. Emma White (33) and Alex White (30) and each rank among the team leaders in ground balls, while Susanna Baker has chipped in with 20 ground balls and 17 caused turnovers. In the last 14 games, Middlebury's defensive unit has held the opposition to single digits in goals.
Julia Keith has emerged as the starter in goal, recording a 16-1 record with a conference-leading 6.24 goals against average. That total also ranks fifth nationally. She posted a career-high 11 saves in a win at #8 York (Pa) earlier this season. Kate Furber has also seen plenty of playing time and has two victories with a 7.39 GAA.
Middlebury head coach Kate Livesay is in her fourth 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 spring, the team has been ranked in the top 10 all year, entering the regional round of the tournament with an 18-1 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 four seasons at Middlebury, she is 76-10 and earned her 200th career win earlier this spring with a victory over Bates in the NESCAC Quarterfinals.
Earlier this season, the Panthers edged Bowdoin in a high-scoring 21-18 decision in Maine. The programs have met 41 times dating back to 1985, with Middlebury holding a 37-4 advantage. Against the other two teams competing this weekend, the Panthers defeated Illinois Wesleyan in the regional semis last year 18-4 in their only meeting, while going 1-1 against the Diplomats, falling 9-8 in overtime in 2017 and posting a 14-5 victory in 2014.
2019 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Regional
Saturday, May 18 - Middlebury
Bowdoin (10-7) vs. Middlebury (18-1) – 11:30 a.m.
Illinois Wesleyan (18-2) vs. Franklin & Marshall (16-4) – 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 19 - Middlebury
Regional Final – 1:00 p.m.