CASTLETON, Vt. – The Spartans seek to take a big step toward claiming their fifth consecutive North Atlantic Conference Championship, when they host No. 4 seed Husson in the NAC Semifinals on Sunday, May 1 at 1 pm.
Castleton enters the NAC Tournament as the top seed after earning a perfect 8-0 mark within conference play. The Spartans are 10-5 overall and have won each of their past four conference games by at least ten goals. On Monday they took down a pesky Green Mountain team 19-5. The Eagles trailed just 6-3 with five minutes left in the first half, before Castleton took control by outscoring them 13-2 over the final 35 minutes. Brandi Whittemore had three goals, five assists and four draw controls while Grace Johnson had five goals, eight draw controls and one assist.
Offensively, the Spartans are scoring 15.0 goals per game, and 17.9 in conference play. Defensively, they are allowing 8.6 overall, and just 4.1 in NAC action. Anchoring this impressive defense is senior goalie Meghan Els. She has a saved over 70 percent of the shots she has faced against NAC opponents and overall ranks fifth nationally with a 56.2 save percentage. She owns an 8.99 GAA while making ten saves per game. Tiffany Danyow has a team-high 30 caused turnovers with 36 ground balls while scoring ten goals.
Senior Briana MacKay has led the attack this year, pacing the offense with 81 points on 65 goals and 16 assists. She has scored at least six goals in six of eight conference games while leading the conference in goals and points. Whittemore is second on the team with 65 points on 44 goals and 21 assists, while Johnson has 24 goals and 22 assists. Maria Ploof has 21 goals and 18 assists while Chantel Wilken has contributed 14 goals and 14 assists.
No. 4 seed Husson enters the NAC Tournament with a 7-6 record after beating Green Mountain 12-11 in the NAC Quarterfinals on Friday. The Eagles led 11-7, before Green Mountain scored four straight to tie the game with 3:45 left. Amanda Deshaies countered with the game-winner less than a minute later and held on for the win. Deshaies scored six goals in the game with six draw controls and eight ground balls.
Entering Sunday, Husson is averaging 9.7 goals per game while allowing 10.15, but just 8.4 in conference play. Alissa Fallon leads the team with 48 points on 22 goals and 26 assists. Deshaies is second on the team with 41 points (30g, 11a), while totaling 50 draw controls, 48 ground balls and 30 caused turnovers. Mattie Russell has 25 goals and four assists to rank third on the team with 29 points. In net, Kaitlin Dolloff has started all 13 games this season. She has a 10.15 GAA and 50.6 save percentage while making 10.2 saves per game.
Earlier this year, Husson held the Spartans to their lowest output against a NAC opponent in the last five years, falling just 10-2 in the contest. Castleton led 6-1 at the half and extended its lead to 10-1 with 17 minutes left, but couldn't score again. The Spartan only outshot the Eagles 30-20 as they committed 27 turnovers and allowed Husson to pick up 37 ground balls. Meghan Els was dynamic with 15 saves and just two goals allowed while MacKay paced the offense with six goals.