CASTLETON, Vt. – The Spartans used a strong second half to pull away from second-seeded Colby-Sawyer and claim the program's fifth consecutive North Atlantic Conference Championship with a 17-7 victory on Saturday evening in Spartan Stadium.
Castleton only outshot the Chargers 27-25 in the contest and each team had 22 shots on goal, but senior Meghan Els was outstanding in net as she made 15 saves while allowing just seven goals. The Spartans led by just three early in the second half, but ended the game on an 8-1 run to capture the NAC Title once again.
The Spartans had 17 caused turnovers in the contest, went 5-for-7 on free position attempts and picked up 28 ground balls to improve to 12-5 on the year. Colby-Sawyer ends its season with a 12-7 mark, the best in program history.
NAC Tournament MVP Brianna MacKay led the offense with six goals on six shots while picking up a pair of ground balls. All-Tournament selection Brandi Whittemore posted six goals, one assist and six ground balls while Grace Johnson added two goals, three ground balls and two caused turnovers.
Three different Chargers scored three times, led by Nicole Lavigne with two goals, five draw controls and one caused turnover. Bailey Starr added a pair of goals with six draw controls while Caitlyn Whearty also scored twice.
MacKay opened the scoring with a pair of goals in the first five minutes for a quick 2-0 lead. Whearty responded with scores at 20:13 and 18:10 to draw the game even. Whittemore gave Castleton back the lead with back-to-back goals just 18 seconds apart, and Maria Ploof extended it to 5-2 with 15:06 left in the half. MacKay register a man-down goal three minutes later for the four-goal lead. Starr ended the Spartan run at 10:04, but Grace Johnson responded five minutes later. Each team scored once in the final two minutes of the half to keep Castleton in front 8-4.
The Spartans scored 59 seconds into the second half, but consecutive goals by Colby-Sawyer cut the deficit to 9-6 with 25 minutes remaining. Whittemore countered with a goal at 23:36 and then had a goal and an assist in just a nine-second span to make it 12-6 with 22:32 left. Lavigne cut the deficit to 12-7 three minutes later, but Castleton scored the final five goals to put the game away.
Senior Emilee Maher and sophomore Nadine Downing were named to the NAC All-Tournament Team, along with Els and Whittemore. Whittemore also scored her 200th point in the contest, becoming the sixth Spartan to reach the milestone.
Meghan Castellano took the loss in net as she allowed 13 goals while making four saves in 43:35. Jenna Donahue came on in relief and made one save while allowing four goals.
Castleton finds out its NCAA Tournament fate during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday evening at 9:30 pm.
Brianna MacKay – MVP – Castleton
Meghan Els – Castleton
Nadine Downing – Castleton
Emilee Maher - Castleton
Brandi Whittemore – Castleton
Sara Berry – Colby-Sawyer
Bailey Statt – Colby-Sawyer
Nicole Lavigne – Colby-Sawyer
Alana Scott – New England College
Breana Ramirez – New England College
Amanda Deshaies – Husson
Mattie Russell - Husson