Hartford, Conn. – The Trinity College Bantams raced to a 7-2 halftime lead and held on for a 13-10 victory over the visiting Colby College Mules in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women's Lacrosse Championship Semifinals on Sheppard Field this afternoon. Trinity, ranked No. 3 in the nation, improves to 14-2 with its 10th consecutive win and advances to the NESCAC Finals tomorrow at noon. Colby falls to 9-6 with its first loss in four games. Three-time defending NESCAC Champion and top-seeded Trinity, which downs the Mules for the 10th straight time, will host the winner of this afternoon's Amherst/Williams game in the league finals tomorrow with the winner of that game earning automatic qualification to the NCAA Division III Championship Tourney.
The game was scoreless for the opening 5:37, as Colby senior backstop Michelle Burt (Woodbridge, Conn.) made five saves during that span, but Trinity junior attacker Molly Cox (Norwell, Mass.) broke through with a free-position shot to give the home team a 1-0 lead at the 24:23 mark. The defenses and both goalkeepers continued their strong play over the next 10 minutes, as Burt saved both shots sent her way including a key stop against Trinity first-year midfielder Karly Simpson (South Hadley, Mass.) midway through the half, and Bantam sophomore Emily Mooney (New York, N.Y.) stymied Mule sophomore midfielder Abby Hooper (Nahant, Mass.) from point-blank range moments later.
Colby senior attacker Lindsey McKenna (Fairfield, Conn.) scored from senior tri-captain attacker Katharine Eddy (Cheshire, Conn.) with 14:03 on the clock to tie the score at 1-1. Burt and Mooney traded two more impressive stops, before three consecutive Trinity goals put the Bantams in control. Trinity junior midfielder Caroline Hayes (Greenfield, N.H.) started the run with a low shot past Burt, and senior tri-captain attacker Shea Kusiak (Longmeadow, Mass.) fed junior midfielder Lindsay Mullaney (Boston, Mass.) on one tally and scored her first of the game just over a minute later for a 4-1 Bantam advantage with 5:15 on the clock. Eddy dished to Mule sophomore attacker Dana Swaffield (Dover, Mass.) for a Colby goal with 4:02 left before the break, , but Hayes won the ensuing draw and rookie midfielder Clare Lyne (Concord, Mass.) scored at 3:07 to ignite a second 3-0 run for the Bantams. Hayes and Kusiak picked up goals before halftime for a 7-2 Trinity advantage.
Eddy took matters into her owns hands with an unassisted score just 29 seconds into the second stanza after controlling the opening draw, and answered a Trinity free-position goal by junior attacker Renee Olsen (Ridgewood, N.J.) with an assist on McKenna's second tally and an unassisted goal of her own to pull the Mules to within three at 8-5 with 22:56 left in the game. Two unassisted goals by sophomore midfielder Martha Griffin (Exeter, N.H.) highlighted a 4-1 Bantam run to extend the home team's advantage to 12-6 at the 12:06 mark, but back-to-back scores by Mule senior attacker Sarah Lux (Manlius, N.Y.) brought her team back into it at 13-9 with 2:09 left to play. Lux fed classmate Katie Griffin (Duxbury, Mass.) 22 seconds later for a 13-10 score, but Mooney made two saves down the stretch to preserve the victory.
"Our strong start was key for us. We had long offensive possessions and quick defensive stands, and we were eventually able to convert and score some goals," said Trinity Head Coach Kate Livesay. "Having played in the last three NESCAC Finals at home, it gives us confidence heading into tomorrow's game. We know how to win big games on this field."
Trinity held a 33-to-18 edge shooting, a 19-to-14 advantage on ground balls, a 15-to-10 advantage on the draw, while forcing 20 turnovers and converting on four of eight free-position shots. Colby committed 27 fouls to 10 for the Bantams, who were forced to defend just a single free-position shot and did so successfully. Burt made nine saves in the first half, while junior goalie Claire Dickson (Darien, Conn.) had five in the second, while Mooney finished with four stops to improve to 13-2. Hayes recorded a hat trick and added a game-high six draw controls, while Kusiak and Griffin each notched two goals and one assist, and Cox scored twice. Mullaney totaled a goal, four ground balls, and three caused turnovers, while sophomore Ashley Stewart (Dover, Mass.) and rookie Kathryn DeLillio (Wilmington, Del.) scooped four ground balls apiece for Trinity. Eddy led all scorers with five points on two goals and three assists, while Lux added two goals and two assists, and Griffin and McKenna scored twice each. Eddy also paced Colby with three draw controls, while Klein and junior midfielder Abby Hatch (Wilbraham, Mass.) had three caused turnovers apiece.