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Contact: William Sodoma
Date: May 3, 2008
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. --- Call it a historic win for the Colby College women's lacrosse team after the fifth-seeded Mules took a stunning 10-8 come-from-behind win over top-seeded and seven-time defending champion Middlebury College in a New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship semifinal game Saturday.
How stunning was the win? Well, Middlebury had never lost a playoff game on the way to seven championships in the seven-year history of the NESCAC tourney. The Panthers had won all 14 of their playoff games by at least two goals or more and beaten Colby four times in the playoffs by an average of nearly eight goals. Colby's all-time record against Middlebury was 0-15 heading into the game. The Panthers also had an 88-game home winning streak dating back to 1997.
"I'm just so happy for the team. We just stayed composed and focused," said Colby first-year head coach Karen Henning. "The other time we played them this year we got down and I think we thought that "it's Middlebury" and we stopped playing. This time we stayed with it and kept working."
The next important task for 13th-ranked Colby (11-5) is the NESCAC championship game against third-seeded Trinity College on Sunday at noon. The Bantams took a 10-9 overtime win over second-seeded Amherst in the other semifinal. The game will be broadcast by D3cast.com at http://www.d3cast.com/index.php
Colby lost, ironically, 10-8 to Middlebury in last year's championship game and did not get invited to the NCAA Division III Tournament with a 12-5 record. The NESCAC championship game winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.
"We've played well in second-day games this year," Henning said. "We beat Williams down in Florida and last weekend we played well against Tufts in another back-to-back game. This is not a team that I think will lose its focus even after such a big win."
The win Saturday was truly improbable when you consider that the Mules trailed 6-2 at halftime to the seventh-ranked Panthers and were still trailing 8-3 with 22 minutes left in the game. Couple that with two-time All-American Kate Sheridan not getting a point in the game.
"I told them at halftime that I thought things were going pretty well," Henning said. "It was a matter of finishing our plays. If we make a good play on defense, than we had to come back and get something offensively. We just took it one goal at a time and suddenly we were tied 8-8."
The comeback started when Becky Julian tallied with 21:35 to go and got the Mules going offensively. Carly Rapaport tallied just 31 seconds later and then senior co-captain Carrie Lovejoy made it 8-6 with 19:54 to go. Lovejoy is one of just two seniors on Colby's roster along with co-captain Jamie Enos.
"C-Love was awesome today. She had such poise out there and was a great leader," Henning said.
Amy Campbell cut the Middlebury (10-4) lead to 8-7 with 10:57 to go and then tied the game just 1:22 later. Campbell, who had five goals in her first year at Colby, has 38 goals and eight assists for 46 points this season. Campbell had four goals Saturday and has 10 in two playoff games.
Julian, a two-time NESCAC Player of the Week this season, got the game-winning goal with 7:06 to go and then scored an insurance tally with 3:21 to play. Julian had four goals Saturday and has 41 goals and 17 assists for 58 points despite missing the opening two games of the season while leading the Colby women's ice hockey team to the NESCAC championship game.
Sarah Warnke was credited with six saves in goal for Colby. Blair Bowie had 14 stops for the Panthers.
Colby 10, Middlebury 8
Colby SCORING: GOALS: Becky Julian 4; Amy Campbell 4; Carrie Lovejoy 1; Carly Rapaport 1. ASSISTS: None. Middlebury SCORING: GOALS: Caroline Kirkendoll 2; Katherine Entwisle 1; Sally Ryan 1; Mimi Schatz 1; Kate Barton 1; Reid Berrien 1; Dana Heritage 1. ASSISTS: Katherine Entwisle 1; Sally Ryan 1. SHOTS - Colby 25; Middlebury 24. GOALIES - Colby: Sarah Warnke (60:00 minutes, 14 shots-6 saves, 8 GA); Middlebury: Blair Bowie (60:00, 24-14, 10).