Waterville, Maine - The North Atlantic Conference has been dominated by Castleton for the past three years, but Thomas has made a bid to change that. The Terriers went 5-1 in conference last year, with their only losses in conference play coming to Castleton, once in the regular season and once in the NAC Championship.
This year the teams met again in the regular season, each without a conference loss. For the third time in two years, Castleton came out as the victor, edging the Terriers 15-11.
Thomas held close to the Spartans throughout the first half, tying it at 5-5 with 5:26 remaining, but Castleton pulled away before halftime, and continued to extend their lead in the second half to earn the 15-11 win over their conference rivals. Four different Spartans scored three goals apiece, and Kim Gosselin dished out a game-high four assists as Castleton rolled to the win.
The Spartans found themselves at an early 2-1 deficit as the Terriers scored a pair of goals in the first eight minutes of play. After a goal by Jennilee Mark, Thomas' Miranda Tinsman and Erin Nelligan each scored to put the Terriers ahead. Maddy DaCosta took it upon herself to regain the lead for Castleton. The junior scored two consecutive goals in 35 seconds to put Castleton back on top 3-2.
The Spartans and Terriers continued to trade goals throughout the first half, with Thomas tying the game at 5-5 on a goal from Tinsman. Castleton responded by ending the half on a 3-0 run, with two goals from Grace Johnson and one from Blake Wardwell as the visiting squad took an 8-5 lead into the half.
After the break, Thomas came out with a vengeance, ripping off three straight goals in the first ten minutes of the second half to tie the game. Nelligan, Day, and Tinsman each notched a goal in the first 9:04 of the second half to make it 8-8 with just under 21 minutes to play.
The Spartans responded to the Thomas wake-up call in a big way, going on a 5-0 run to take command of the contest. Kate Auer got the rally going with a goal at the 18:00 mark, followed by a converted free position shot by Whittemore and two goals from Jennilee Mark. Gosselin finished the capped the rally with a goal with 11:44 remaining to make it 13-8.
Thomas tried to mount a comeback with a goal from Brittany Premo that cut into the Spartan lead, but DaCosta and Auer provided a pair of daggers, extending Castleton's advantage to 15-9 in the final five minutes. Thomas scored a pair of goals down the stretch, but it was too late as the Spartans earned their fourth conference win of the year.
Kate Auer finished with three goals, an assist, four ground balls and a career-high 16 draw controls. Blake Wardwell finished with six ground balls and two caused turnovers, while Sarah Clark notched five groundballs and three caused turnovers for the Spartans. Rachel Bombardier earned the win, allowing five goals and making six saves in the first half. Meghan Els played the second half, allowing six goals and making three saves.
Erin Nelligan led the Terriers in nearly every category, scoring three goals, scooping seven ground balls and earning seven draw controls. Miranda Tinsman finished with four goals for the home team. Allie McCarthy made 12 saves in net, but allowed 15 goals to take the loss.
Castleton improves to 5-6 on the year and stays perfect with a 4-0 record in the NAC. The Spartans have now won 20 straight contests against NAC opponents, dating back to the 2012 season. The Spartans will return to action on Wednesday, April 16 when they travel to New England College.