CASTLETON, Vt. – Castleton University rallied from a five-goal deficit early in the second half to defeat New England College, 14-12, in the final of the 2017 North Atlantic Conference Women's Lacrosse Tournament Saturday night at Spartan Stadium.
With the victory, Castleton, now 12-6 overall, wins its sixth consecutive NAC Tournament title and will receive the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. New England College concludes its season with an 11-7 overall record.
Down 11-6 after a free position goal by Allison Granata (Norwalk, Conn.) less than four minutes into the second half, Castleton started its comeback with a free position goal by Erin Shuttle (Georgia, Vt.) two minutes later.
With 19:37 remaining in the second half, Shuttle assisted on a goal by Chantel Wilkin (Barre, Vt.), and then Shuttle took a pass from Tiffany Danyow (Middlebury, Vt.) and scored with 14:42 left in regulation to close the Spartan deficit to two at 11-9.
Granata scored her fifth goal of the match with 13:04 on the clock, but Shuttle would strike again three minutes later off an assist by Megan Wood. Just eight seconds later, Danyow found an open Emily Cross (Shaftsbury, Vt.), who converted on her second goal of the night.
Castleton continued to pressure the Pilgrim defense, as Shuttle converted consecutive free position attempts after drawing NEC fouls, first with 7:39 left to tie the game, and then with 4:33 remaining in regulation to give the Spartans their first lead of the night. Grace Johnson (South Burlington, Vt.) would convert on her own free position chance two minutes later for an insurance goal.
New England College drew first blood less than five minutes into the game as Tara Bainbridge (South Hadley, Mass.) found Alana Scott (Huntington, Vt.) for the first of her three goals. After Cross tied the game 44 seconds later, Bainbridge scored consecutive goals, and then assisted on goals by Granata and Scott to extend the Pilgrim lead to 5-1 with 19:13 left in the first half.
Danyow scored on a free position attempt, and then she assisted on Shuttle's first goal of the night to cut the NEC lead in half at 5-3. Granata scored twice, but goals by Johnson, Wilkin, and Shuttle brought the Spartans to within one at 7-6 with 8:12 left in the opening half.
The Pilgrims scored four unanswered goals, starting with consecutive tallies by Bainbridge. Scott would convert a free position attempt with 1:07 remaining before halftime, and then Granata's free position goal early in the second half gave the Pilgrims their biggest lead of the night at 11-6.
Shuttle finished with a career-high seven goals as she was named MVP of the NAC Tournament, while Danyow collected five assists during the game. Johnson, Wilkin, and Cross each collected two goals apiece. Defensively, Erin McKenna (York, Maine) led the Spartans with five ground balls and four caused turnovers, and Samantha Hebb (Ashland, Mass.) made four saves in net.
Granata earned five goals, five ground balls, five draw controls, and two caused turnovers for the Pilgrims, while Bainbridge finished with four goals and four assists for eight total points. Scott contributed a hat trick, and Anya Owens tied Granata for the team lead with five ground balls. NEC goalie Mackenzie Meegan made 10 saves during the contest.
Castleton will learn its NCAA Tournament fate when the field and bracket is announced on NCAA.com at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7.
Colby-Sawyer: Meghan Castellano
Colby-Sawyer: Nicole Lavigne
UMaine-Farmington: Rhi Jackson
UMaine-Farmington: Jackie Langevin
New England College: Allison Granata
New England College: Lindsey Stewart
New England College: Mackenzie Meegan
Castleton: Erin McKenna
Castleton: Sabrina Hosner
Castleton: Tiffany Danyow
Castleton: Nadine Downing
Castleton: Erin Shuttle - MVP