HENNIKER, N.H. – Castleton University won its 53rd straight North Atlantic Conference regular season match, clinching the NAC regular season title and the top seed in the NAC Tournament with a 20-8 victory over New England College Monday afternoon in a women's collegiate lacrosse contest at Don Melander Field.
Erin Shuttle notched Castleton's fourth 10-point performance of the season, scoring six goals and dishing out four assists to go along with four ground balls and two caused turnovers. Emily Cross finished with four goals and five assists, and Hannah Braman also earned a hat trick with three goals.
Shuttle began her offensive spurt 1:41 into the match, receiving a pass from Megan Wood and finding the back of the net. Emma Best converted on a free position opportunity to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead, but the Pilgrims cut that lead in half on a goal by Alana Scott.
Shuttle and Best scored 15 seconds apart to extend the Castleton lead to 4-1, and then Shuttle clinched her hat trick with a goal off an assist by Cross with 22:49 remaining in the first half. After Tara Bainbridge scored to close the Pilgrim deficit to three at 5-2, Cross converted a free position opportunity and Morgan Derosia picked up her first goal of the game 46 seconds later to increase the Spartan lead to 7-2 halfway through the first half.
New England College (8-7, 5-2 NAC) attempted to stay close as Ashley McNamara answered a Braman goal with one of her own. However, the Spartans started to pull away by scoring six unanswered goals, with Braman, Cross, and Shuttle scoring two goals apiece during that stretch as Castleton took a 14-4 lead into halftime.
The two teams basically exchanged goals through the first 20 minutes of the second half before tallies by Nadine Downing and Megan Krumm created the final 12-goal margin. Downing finished with two goals and two assists for four points, the same total as Derosia as she collected one goal and three assists.
Best led everyone with nine draw controls and three caused turnovers to go along with her two goals. Samantha Hebb picked up her eighth victory of the season, making five saves to assist a Spartan defense that held the Pilgrims to 18 total shots and forced nine failed clear attempts by the home team.
Scott led New England College with a hat trick, earning three goals and one assist, while Bainbridge finished with two goals and three assists and Caitlin Shanahan also scored two goals for the Pilgrims. McKenzie Gallasso was credited with 13 saves as 33 of Castleton's 38 shots were on goal.
Castleton (9-6, 7-0 NAC) will host a NAC Tournament semifinal Sunday, April 29, at Spartan Stadium against the winner of the April 27 quarterfinal contest between fourth seed Husson and fifth seed Maine Maritime. If the Spartans win, they will also host the tournament title game Saturday, May 5.