HARTFORD, Conn. --- After pulling out wild come-from-behind wins the last two years to reach the NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinal round, the Colby College women's lacrosse team made it look easy this year after romping to a 16-5 win over Messiah College in a second round game Saturday at Trinity College.
The eighth-ranked Mules are 15-2 overall and will meet host Trinity in an NCAA quarterfinal Sunday at 1 p.m. The winner is the regional champion and moves on to the NCAA Final Four at Montclair (N.J.) State next weekend. Trinity, a 17-6 winner against Buffalo State in the first game of the day, is ranked fifth nationally and won the NESCAC title.
"I think we have to control the tempo and not let Trinity dictate the rate of play," Colby head coach Karen MacCrate Henning said. "We need to be able to possess the ball and take care of it."
Kate Pistel, Colby's junior All-American midfielder, has been the Mules' key player the last two years in second round games and she worked her magic again Saturday. Pistel had four goals -- three of them unassisted --- in the opening 22:03 of play to spark the Mules to a 7-1 lead. Last year she scored the tying goal and then assisted on the game-winning goal with 13 seconds left in Colby's 6-5 win over Hamilton College. Two years ago, Pistel had three goals and two assists in a 10-9 win against Cortland State.
Pistel also finished with a pair of assists, a team-best four ground balls, and caused two Messiah turnovers.
"I wouldn't say it was an easy game," MacCrate Henning said. "We had to work the whole game. If we took a break, they would capitalize on it."
Lindsey McKenna, a first team All-NESCAC selection along with Pistel, also had four goals and dished one assist. She is up to 44 goals this season and is one point shy of 100, with 87 goals and 12 assists in just two years at Colby.
Tess Petesch, who had the game-winning goal last year in the second round against Hamilton, finished with two goals and two assists for the winners. Sarah Lux added three assists and has a team-best 28 on the season and reached 51 in her two-year career. Katie Griffin added a pair of goals, Claire Donegan had two assists, and the Mules received single goals from Lane McVey, Sara Miller, and Lucy Gerrity.
Messiah (16-5) came into the game with loads of offensive potential, but the Falcons likely had not seen a defense like Colby has this year. Messiah's Rachel Dirksen came into the contest with 73 goals and 31 assists for 104 points this season, but managed just three shots and one assist against the stingy Mules.
"Claire (Donegan) spent most of the time on her," MacCrate Henning said. "We definitely wanted to limit her opportunities. We felt she was one of the keys to their success."
Colby All-NESCAC goaltender Michelle Burt made nine saves to move her save percentage to .552 and lower her goals against average to 7.08. Kirsten Karis, another All-NESCAC pick along with Donegan, led Colby in caused turnovers (3) and added a pair of ground balls.
Colby's offense and defense came together nicely in the opening half for an 8-1 lead at intermission. Pistel scored the opening goal of the game just 2:06 into play, but Messiah quickly countered when Lizzy Keeney tallied with 26:24 left. McKenna put the Mules up for good off a pass from Petesch with 25:05 remaining. Pistel added another unassisted goal with 17:59 to play, Hilary Barr tallied from Donegan for a 4-1 lead a few minutes later, Pistel scored her third from Lux with 10:09 left, Gerrity got her goal from Lux with 9:08 to the break, Pistel scored her fourth with 7:57 left, and Griffin made it 8-1 with 1:06 to play.
The Falcons showed some signs of life by keeping Colby off the scoreboard in the first nine minutes of the second half and made it 8-2 on a free-position goal by Jaime Gerhart.
Colby quick extinguished any momentum Messiah might have had with the goal when McKenna, with the Falcons down a player because of a yellow card, made it 9-2 off a pass from Pistel with 20:28 remaining. The same combination went to work just 56 seconds later to put Colby up 10-2.
Gerhart scored her second goal of the game with 16:59 remaining to cut the margin to 10-3, However, Petesch scored from Lux with 14:52 to play and McVey tallied 52 seconds later for a 12-3 lead. After another goal by Messiah, the Mules ran off three straight scores from Petesch, McKenna, and Miller for a 15-4 margin. The two teams traded goals, with Griffin scoring for Colby, in the final 1:29.
The Mules have now won 15 games or more in a season the last four years. The last two years the Mules ended with 15 wins, but hope for win 16 on Sunday.
"I think the players don't want the season to slip by without giving their very best effort," MacCrate Henning said. "When we lost to Hamilton in the league quarterfinal, that was a challenge to the team to not let that type of effort happen again."
Colby 16, Messiah 5
Messiah............. 1 4 - 5
Colby............... 8 8 - 16
Messiah SCORING: GOALS: Lizzy Keeney 2; Jaime Gerhart 2; Marybeth
Bindel 1. ASSISTS: Rachel Coyle 1; Rachel Dirksen 1; Lizzy Keeney 1.
Colby SCORING: GOALS: Kate Pistel 4; Lindsey McKenna 4; Tess Petesch
2; Katie Griffin 2; Lane McVey 1; Sara Miller 1; Lucy Gerrity 1;
Hilary Barr 1. ASSISTS: Sarah Lux 3; Claire Donegan 2; Tess Petesch 2; Kate Pistel 2;
Lindsey McKenna 1.
Messiah GROUND BALLS: Cecilia Kjellman 2; Kiersten McGreer 2; Emily
Mumford 2; Marybeth Bindel 1; Ariana Borreggine 1; Maddie Comfort 1;
Rachel Dirksen 1; Gabrielle Hamelryck 1; Lizzy Keeney 1; Kelsey Luck
Colby GROUND BALLS: Kate Pistel 4; Catherine Kahl 3; Lane McVey 3;
Claire Donegan 2; Kirsten Karis 2; Michelle Burt 1; Katie Griffin 1;
Lisa Hoopes 1; Sarah Lux 1; Kat McCarrick 1; Lindsey McKenna 1; Sara
Messiah TURNOVERS CAUSED: Rachel Coyle 2; Lizzy Keeney 2; Rachel
Dirksen 1; Gabrielle Hamelryck 1; Cecilia Kjellman 1.
Colby TURNOVERS CAUSED: Kirsten Karis 3; Claire Donegan 2; Kate Pistel
2; Lindsay McCabe 1; Sara Miller 1.
SHOTS - Messiah 18; Colby 32.
SHOTS ON GOAL - Messiah 14; Colby 23.
TURNOVERS - Messiah 20; Colby 15.
FACEOFFS - Messiah 0-0; Colby 0-0.
CLEARS - Messiah 3-3; Colby 6-9.
GOALIES - MESSW: Kelsey Luck 4-3 (60:00 minutes, 23 shots-7 saves, 16
GA); COLWLX12: Michelle Burt 10-2 (60:00, 14-9, 5).