Castleton, Vt. – The Castleton women's lacrosse team advanced to its second straight North Atlantic Conference Championship with an 18-6 victory over New England College on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium.
It was a slow start for the Spartans but they came alive midway through the first half and dominated the final 30 minutes of play. Castleton finished with a 42-13 advantage in shots and won 19-of-26 draw controls to secure a trip to the NAC Title game.
Kate Auer grabbed 15 of the team's 19 draw controls and also scored a team-high four goals with one assist for five points. Brandi Whittemore was also strong all over the field, with two goals, two assists, six ground balls and three caused turnovers. Sarah Clark added a hat trick.
NEC struck first, scoring just 4:56 into the game as Meredith Merce found Eleni Hatsis in front for the 1-0 lead. Brandi Whittemore tied the scored up four minutes later on a great individual effort. However, the Pilgrims came back with a goal by Gabriella Bigos at 20:52.
Amanda Flodstrom countered with 18:13 remaining in the first half to knot the score 2-2. Kate Auer then connected on a free position shot at 16:40 to give Castleton its first lead. Sarah Merrill tied it up two minutes later, but Jennilee Mark scored back-to-back goals to put the Spartans in front for good, 5-3.
Sarah Clark made it 6-3 at 7:47 and Castleton scored four more times before a goal by NEC's Meredith Merce cut the Spartans' lead to 10-4 going into the break.
Jessica Taplin extended the lead to 11-4 3:46 into the second half, and goals by Auer, Clark and Maddy DaCosta pushed Castleton in front 14-4 with 22:41 left. The Spartans outscored NEC 4-2 over the final 20 minutes to finish with the 12-goal victory.
Defensively, Cori Healy picked up six ground balls and forced three turnovers while sophomore Kelsey McDonald made three saves in net to earn the victory. Rebecca Harvey took the loss, making 14 saves while allowing all 18 goals.
The Spartans improve to 8-7 with the win while NEC concludes its season with a 5-14 mark.
Castleton returns to action tomorrow at 1 pm to take on the winner of Thomas and Husson at Spartan Stadium in the NAC Championship.