Middlebury Holds on for 12-8 Season-Opening NESCAC Victory at Tufts

Kali DiGate's three goals paced Tufts in its 2014 debut

MEDFORD - Visiting Middlebury College surged to a 10-2 halftime lead and then withstood a comeback by the host Tufts Jumbos to take a 12-8 final in the season and NESCAC women's lacrosse opener for both squads Saturday at Bello Field.

Liza Herzog led the third-ranked Panthers with three goals and an assist, while sophomore Laurel Pascal had two goals and an assist for the winners. Senior tri-captain Alyssa Palomba made 10 saves in the Panther cage, five in each half.

Tufts, making its first start under new head coach Courtney Farell, was paced by three goals from junior Kali DiGate. Sophomore Caroline Ross, NESCAC's Rookie of the Year last season, added two goals and an assist. Senior co-captain Gabby Horner assisted twice and scored once for the Jumbos.

Middlebury scored nine of the first 10 goals and looked like they would run away with it. They led 9-1 on a free-position score by Herzog at 5:27 of the first half. Herzog, Pascal and Bridget Instrum all scored twice in the first half for Middlebury.

DiGate had both Jumbo goals in the opening 30 minutes as they trailed 10-2 at intermission. Middlebury had a 16-8 shots advantage in the period.

The Jumbos showed resiliency, turning the game around and out-shooting Middlebury 14-7 in the second half. They scored the first five goals of the second half to close the gap to 10-7 on DiGate's third goal of the contest at 17:48. Five different Jumbos scored during the run, three on free-position shots. Ross, first-year Annie Artz and Horner all scored in a span of 56 seconds.

Middlebury was able to stop the Jumbo momentum with back-to-back goals from Herzog and Katie Ritter to lead 12-7 with 13:34 remaining. The Jumbos would only manage to score once in the final 17:48 as the Panthers posted the win.

Ritter and Instrum with two goals each joined Herzog and Pascal as multi-goal scorers for Mid. The Panthers earned a large 18-6 advantage on ground balls, including four by Erin Binotti. Catherine Fowler won six of the Middlebury's 12 draw controls. Benotti led the visiting side with three caused turnovers.

In addition to leading Tufts in goals, DiGate also had a team-best three ground balls and caused two turnovers. Senior Eliza Halmo led Tufts with four caused turnovers while Ross took five draw controls. Senior goalie Rachel Gallimore finished with six saves.

Shots were nearly even at 23-22 Middlebury.