SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Castleton University rallied from a five-goal deficit to twice tie its match against Western New England, but the Golden Bears scored a late goal and held off the Spartans for a 9-8 victory Tuesday afternoon in a non-conference collegiate women's lacrosse game at Golden Bear Stadium.
Western New England (2-2) got on the board with a successful free position shot by Rachel Canning and an unassisted goal by Julia Winer. Hannah Braman cut the Spartan deficit in half with her fourth goal of the season, but goals by Shannen Barrett and Emma Norden helped Western New England establish a 4-2 lead at halftime.
Lindsey Phillips scored consecutive goals for the Golden Bears, and then Barrett earned her second goal of the match to extend the WNE lead to 7-2 with 20:41 remaining in the second half. Although Castleton was down one player, Grace Johnson converted a free position shot, and then she scored again just 28 seconds later to bring the Spartans within three.
The Spartan offense continued to click, as Emily Cross scored off an assist from Megan Wood, Ashley Pelkey earned her second goal of the game, and Johnson completed a hat trick to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:46 left in regulation. Phillips responded for the Golden Bears with her third goal of the match to put Western New England back on top, 8-7, with 8:26 to go in the second half.
Castleton once again tied the game, this time with Cross setting up Wood with six minutes remaining on the clock. Two minutes later, Winer found Lauren Hurley, who converted on her shot attempt to put the Golden Bears back on top.
Spartan goalie Samantha Hebb kept Castleton within one goal by saving two free position chances by the Golden Bears as the clock wound down. Castleton would earn its own free position chance with 16 seconds remaining, but WNE goalie Shannon McFadden turned the attempt away, salvaging the victory for the home team.
Johnson led the Spartan offense with three goals and one assist, taking eight total shots with seven of them on goal. Erin McKenna helped the Castleton defense with five ground balls and three caused turnovers, and Hebb collected a career-high 17 saves, 11 of them in the second half.
Castleton (0-2) opens a three-game homestand Thursday, March 16, against Worcester State starting at 5 p.m. at Spartan Stadium. It begins a stretch of three games in five days, as the Spartans will also host Maine-Farmington Saturday, March 18, and Tufts Monday, March 20.