Women's Lacrosse Falls to Middlebury in NCAA Championship Game

SALEM, Va. - Jane Earley scored six goals with an assist for Middlebury College as the Panthers won the 2022 NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship with a 13-5 victory over Tufts University on Sunday at Kerr Stadium on the campus of Roanoke College.

This was a 7-5 game early in the fourth quarter after Tufts sisters Kathryn Delaney and Madeline Delaney connected on a goal to pull the Jumbos within two. However, the Panthers tallied six in a row during the final nine minutes for the 13-5 final.

Tufts, making its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship Game, and after qualifying for their third consecutive "Final Four", finished its season with a 19-4 record. Middlebury won its eighth NCAA title while compiling a 22-1 season record. The lone loss came against Tufts in the NESCAC Championship Game 9-8.

In the first half, the Jumbos withstood a strong start by the Panthers. Middlebury's Earley scored the game's first two goals in the opening five minutes for a 2-0 lead. That forced a Tufts time-out, but the Panthers added to their lead with a goal by Lily Riseberg assisted by Emma White. The Jumbos got on the board when Mae Briody set up Sami Rothstein at 6:22 of the first period. Middlebury would lead 4-1 at the end of one quarter though, following a Kelcey Dion goal as the Panthers were able to cut through the Jumbo defense for good shots in the first 15 minutes.

Tufts tightened up defensively in the second. Another Earley goal would give the Panthers a 5-1 advantage 47 seconds into the frame, but Tufts would settle it down from there. The Jumbo defense would allow just one Panther goal in the second and third periods.

Margie Carden, who became Tufts' single-season record-holder for goals with seven yesterday in the Jumbos' NCAA semfinal win over The College of New Jersey, scored off free-position to pull Tufts within 5-2 today. Then Briody, who had an excellent weekend facilitating, scored one of her own to pull Tufts with 5-3. Jumbo senior goalie Molly Laliberty saved a free-postion shot by Earley at the nine-minute mark of the second, then Panther Erin Nicholas hit the post on a free-position shot. Late in the period, with Tufts down a player due to a yellow card, Laliberty saved a shot by Niki Mormile as time expired. She had seven stops overall in the first half which ended with Middlebury ahead 5-3.

Into the second half, Middlebury's Hope Shue scored on a free-position shot while Tufts was down a player again. The tally ended a more than 15-minute stretch when neither team scored and the Panthers led 6-3. After Middlebury goalie Annie Enrietto stopped a point-blank shot by Carden, Tufts freshman Genna Gibbons scored off a feed from Briody makeing it 6-4. Kathryn Delaney hit the post in an attempt to make it a one-goal game late in the third and the Panthers entered the fourth with a 6-4 margin.

Middlebury's Grace Getman was dispossessed of the ball in front of the Jumbo cage, but was able to regain the ball and score for a 7-4 Panther lead 50 seconds into the fourth. Tufts' Anna Clarke won the draw leading to the Delaney sisters' goal and the Jumbos were back within two (7-5).

However, Earley took over and scored three straight times leading a 4-0 Middlebury run overall during a three-minute stretch in the middle of the quarter giving the Panthers an 11-5 advantage. They added two more, both by Susan Rowley, for the 13-5 final.

Briody with a goal and two assists led Tufts offensively. Gibbons had a goal, an assist, two draw controls and two caused turnovers. Maddy Lehan caused two Middlebury miscues and collected two ground balls, and Laliberty finished with nine sanves.

For the Panthers, Erica Barr totaled four draw controls and four ground balls, while Nicholas recorded three draw controls and three ground balls. Madison Paylor caused three turnovers and Enrietto finished with four saves.

A strong Middlebury defensive effort allowed just 15 Tufts shots while the Panthers recorded 31. Tufts only earned two free-position shots. Middlebury also had a substantial lead in ground balls (23-11).