CASTLETON, Vt. – In 2012, Castleton University joined the North Atlantic Conference in women's lacrosse for good after three years in the New England Women's Lacrosse Association. Over the past seven years, Castleton has won 50 straight regular season NAC games and has hosted all 14 NAC Tournament games it has participated in, all Spartan victories.
Saturday, May 5, at 8 p.m. at Spartan Stadium, Castleton will host its 15th and final NAC Tournament game, as the Spartans look to close out their league membership with a perfect record in women's lacrosse when they host Colby-Sawyer College in the NAC Tournament championship game.
Castleton, 10-6 overall, extended its winning streak to six games and clinched its 10th 10-win season over the last 11 years with a 15-8 victory over Husson last Sunday in the NAC Tournament semifinal. Erin Shuttle and Emily Cross scored four goals apiece, Hannah Braman collected two goals and three assists to reach 100 career points, and Samantha Hebb made 10 saves in net for the Spartans.
Shuttle continues to lead the team in scoring with 55 goals, tied for sixth on the Castleton single-season goals list. Cross currently has 47 goals and 40 assists for 87 total points, just two assists away from tying the Spartan single-season assists record and tied for fifth on the school's single-season points list. Defensively, Hebb has posted a 9.59 goals against average and a .470 save percentage with 117 saves.
Colby-Sawyer improved to 10-5 Monday in the other tournament semifinal, spotting New England College a 3-0 lead before scoring the next 13 goals on its way to a 21-6 victory over the Pilgrims. Nicole Lavigne scored six goals, Sierra Schuster finished with five goals, and Brittany Ireland added four goals. Kailyn Lapham made six saves in net for the Chargers.
As a team, the Chargers are averaging 15.8 goals per game while allowing just 9.0 goals per contest. Lavigne leads the team with 75 goals and 90 total points, with Schuster collecting 39 goals and 16 assists and Ireland contributing 24 goals along with a team-high 18 assists. Lapham has played every second in net for Colby-Sawyer, posting a goals against average of 8.98 along with a save percentage of .514.
In the all-time series, Colby-Sawyer holds an 18-12 advantage over Castleton, but the Spartans have won 11 straight games over the Chargers dating back to the 2010 season. On March 24 at Spartan Stadium, Castleton defeated Colby-Sawyer, 17-9, led by Cross with four goals and seven assists, Braman with six goals, and Shuttle with five goals. Sarah Morin led the Chargers with four goals, and Lavigne contributed two goals and two assists.
This is the third straight year that Castleton and Colby-Sawyer are meeting in the NAC Tournament. In 2016, they met in the championship game, with the Spartans pulling away for a 17-7 victory. Last season in the semifinals, the Chargers scored four straight goals to take a 9-8 lead midway through the second half, but the Spartans went on a 7-2 scoring run and then held on for a 15-13 victory despite eight goals and two assists from Lavigne.
The winner of the NAC Tournament championship will earn the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Tournament. The NCAA will announce the entire 42-team field Sunday, May 6, at 10 p.m., with 10 first round games scheduled for Saturday, May 11 and 16 second round games to take place Sunday, May 12.