WATERVILLE, Maine — The sixth-ranked Colby College women’s lacrosse team could not have asked for a more thrilling final New England Small College Athletic Conference game on Bill Alfond Field after Madeleine Hatch scored 2:55 into overtime for an 8-7 win over Wesleyan University in a league quarterfinal game on Saturday.
The fourth-seeded Mules won their 11th straight game in improving to 13-3 overall. Colby will play at top-seeded Middlebury College next Saturday at noon. Hamilton College, the second seed, and third-seeded Trinity College play in the other semifinal at 2:30 p.m. The winners will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the NESCAC title
With Colby building a new artificial turf surface behind the current athletic center, the Mules were possibly playing on Bill Alfond Field for the final time. The Mules could still host an NCAA Division III Tournament game.
Both teams came up big defensively in the overtime period. After each team caused one turnover, first-year Grace Crowell came up with the biggest play of her young collegiate career on a one-on-one strip for a caused turnover and a ground ball.
Hatch was fouled on a straight-on shot and awarded a free-position shot. Wesleyan goalie Grace McCann had made some nice stops on low shots at her feet, so Hatch went high and set off a wild celebration.
Hatch finished with two goals and one assist for the Mules. Lexie Perticone had three first-half assists, Sasha Fritts scored twice, and Emilie Klein had one goal and one assist. Crowell, Gemma Bready, and Kendall Smith had the other goals.
Meredith Smith led all scorers with four goals for Wesleyan. Abigail Horst, Abby Manning, and Rachel Aronow also had scores. Liana Mathias had one assist.
Wesleyan, winners of five of the last six games coming into Saturday, had a terrific start to the game. The Cardinals went up 3-0 just 9:44 into the contest. Smith scored unassisted and then added a free-position goal for a 2-0 lead. Horst also scored on a free-position shot for the third goal.
Colby, though, settled down and scored five of the next six goals to take a 5-4 lead. Hatch scored the Mules’ first goal from Perticone just 52 seconds after Wesleyan’s third goal. Kendall Smith scored on a free-position with 16:27 to play, but Meredith Smith answered with a free-position goal about four minutes later to put the Cardinals up 4-2.
Crowell sparked the Mules with a terrific run to the goal, eluding defenders and scoring with 8:14 to play. Fritts scored from Perticone with 5:05 left and Klein got her goal 1:02 later off another assist from Perticone for a 5-4 Mule lead.
The Cardinals sent the game to halftime at 5-5 when Aronow tallied with just 26 seconds to play.
Neither team could manage a goal in the second half until Fritts scored from Klein with 18:32 to play. Meredith Smith got another free-position goal just 1:03 later to knot the game at 6-6.
Defense and turnovers dominated play over the next 10 minutes until Wesleyan took a 7-6 lead with 7:52 remaining on a goal from Abby Manning off an assist from Mathias.
Colby answered back quickly when Bready scored from Hatch with 6:35 left in regulation. The final 6:35 was sloppy, with the teams combining for five turnovers and seven fouls.
The game was extremely even, with both teams at 21 shots, 15 turnovers, and 30 fouls. The Mules had slight edges in draw controls (9-8) and ground balls (15-13). Wesleyan was 4-for-7 on free-position shots and the Mules were 2-of-7.
Izzy Scribano made five of her six saves in the second half for Colby. McCann stopped eight shots for the Cardinals.
Georgia Lubrano had three caused turnovers to lead Colby’s defense. Klein finished with two caused turnovers, four ground balls, and two draw controls. Melinda Edie added four ground balls, three draw controls, and one caused turnover.
Manning had three draw controls and one ground ball for the Cardinals. Amy Breitfeller and Caroline Sgaglione both had two draw controls and one ground ball.