Passarelli Powers Jeffs Past Ephs in NESCAC Semifinals

HARTFORD, Conn. Behind five Rachel Passarelli '16 goals, the second-seeded Amherst lacrosse team advanced to the NESCAC championship for the first time since 2005 with a 9-4 semifinal victory over archrival Williams.

Posting the program's highest win total since 2008 (15), Amherst improved to 16-1 (9-1 NESCAC) overall and will face top-seeded Trinity in tomorrow's final slated for 12:00 p.m. The Bantams defeated Colby in the afternoon's other semifinal, 13-10, to punch their ticket to a fourth-consecutive conference championship game.

Approaching the 23-minute mark, Passarelli broke through with the game's first score. Taking advantage of a failed Williams clear, the sophomore standout cut to the front of the net before beating Ali Piltch '14 on the far post. Nearly seven minutes later, Passarelli once again capitalized on an Eph miscue in the midfield, turning an Elizabeth Ludlow '14 feed into her 32nd goal of the season.

With just over five minutes remaining in the half, Williams got on the board. Cleaning up a Natalie Gill '16 misfire that landed wide of the left post, Nancy Palmer '15 picked up the loose ball before slotting a rising shot into the back of the cage at 5:44.

Moments later, Bridget Malicki '15 had a chance to tie it with a try from point-blank range, but Amherst sophomore goalie Christy Forrest '16 stood tall to preserve the lead. Putting Amherst back up by two with 2:15 to go in the opening period, Alex Philie '14 bounced a shot inside of the right post.

Cutting into the Jeff lead shortly after the restart, Rebecca Bell '15 found open space in front to cut it to 3-2. Less than four minutes after Bell's score, Passarelli tucked a high shot under the crossbar to double the Amherst advantage. Adding to the Purple & White cushion, Passarelli buried her fourth of the contest at 19:23.

Battling back, Hillary Cook '15 trimmed the Eph deficit with less than 12 minutes remaining in regulation. Coming around the left post, the midfielder cut across the front of the crease before slipping a shot inside the far pipe. Once again jumpstarting the Amherst attack, Passarelli helped stave off Williams' comeback bid, notching the Jeffs' sixth marker with 7:50 on the clock. Helping Amherst cap off the win, Philie, Meghan Mills '15 and Claire Cagnassola '17 tacked on three Jeff goals in the final five-plus minutes.

Going 9 of 11 on clears, Amherst finished with a 23-18 shot advantage and a 14-12 edge in ground balls. Forrest finished with seven saves, while Piltch made nine stops. Other than Passarelli, Philie was the only other player to notch multiple goals, with Malicki, Bell, Cook and Palmer accounting for the Eph scores.


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