No. 6 Amherst Falls to No. 8 Middlebury in NESCAC Semis

HARTFORD, Conn. – Amherst College's quest for a first NESCAC title came to a halt on Saturday with a 7-6 loss to Middlebury College in the conference championship's semifinal round.

Middlebury accounted for the first three goals of the second half and preserved a narrow lead by holding Amherst scoreless for the final 10:51. Alex Philie '14 stood out for the Lord Jeffs with two goals, five draw controls and three caused turnovers, while Lamia Harik '12 made five saves in net.

Amherst-ranked sixth in Division III and seeded fourth in the tournament-moves to 12-4 and will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship. The NCAA's selection show is scheduled for Sunday, May 6 at 9:30 p.m. on www.ncaa.com.

The Lord Jeffs had their winning streak snapped at six games, as they had been cruising since suffering an 8-5 setback to Middlebury on Apr. 7. The Panthers-ranked eighth and seeded third-improve to 12-3 and will face Trinity in Sunday's NESCAC finals.

Amherst held slim advantages in shots (18-17) and draw controls (8-7), with each team turning the ball over 13 times and Middlebury winning the ground ball battle (14-7).

Krista Zsitvay '14 put the Jeffs on the board 55 seconds into the game, and Marta Randall '13 broke a 1-1 tie nearly 10 minutes later on a free position goal. After the Panthers took a 3-2 lead on consecutive goals, Meghan Mills '15 closed out the first-half scoring with a free position attempt of her own to make it a 3-3 game.

A span of less than two minutes wound up being the difference maker, as the Panthers took a 6-3 lead after scoring three times in 1:14. Philie and Allie Horwitz '12 got Amherst back in the game with goals at 15:58 and 15:32, bringing the score to 6-5 at the midpoint of the second half.

Elizabeth Garry bumped Middlebury's lead back to two with 12 minutes to play, and Philie answered with her second marker at 10:51. That would be the final goal of the game, as neither defense wavered down the stretch. Lily Nguyen picked up the win by making four saves in each half for the Panthers.

Amherst hasn't qualified for the NCAA Tournament since 2008, but the Lord Jeffs have built a strong résumé in one of the most competitive conferences in Division III. The Jeffs have made nine appearances in the national tournament, notably winning the 2003 NCAA title and twice finishing as the runner-up.

2012-05-05



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