Castleton, Vt. – Castleton's hold on the 2013 North Atlantic Conference championship looked less than certain after 30 minutes, but the top-seeded Spartans controlled play in the final half to secure a 21-12 victory over Thomas and the program's second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Castleton held a slim 9-8 lead after a back-and-forth first half, but an adjustment in the team's draw control strategy paid huge dividends as the Spartans won 14 of 17 draw controls in the final 30 minutes. Castleton also held Thomas without a second-half shot until the 10:18 mark.
The Spartans finished the contest with a 44-20 shot advantage and picked up 24 draw controls compared to 12 for the Terriers. Castleton also went 5-for-10 on free position attempts and the Terriers scored on both of their attempts.
Junior Amanda Flodstrom was a force around the net, registering a career-high 11 points on five goals and six assists while also grabbing five draw controls and causing three turnovers. Sarah Clark added four goals and Tournament MVP Brandi Whittemore scored twice and finished with three caused turnovers, two draw controls and two ground balls from her midfield position.
Clark put the Spartans on the board 1:45 into the contest, but Brittany Premo scored at 25:13 to tie it 1-1. Flodstrom responded at 21:44 and Jessica Taplin gave the Spartans a 3-1 advantage off a pass from Flodstrom a minute and half later.
The Terriers drew even with consecutive goals before Flodstrom made it 4-3 with 17:53 left. However, Thomas continued its run with three straight goals, the final coming from Premo, to jump in front 6-4 with 16:51 remaining in the first half.
Three straight goals by the Spartans over the next three minutes brought them back in front for good. Erin Nelligan scored with 7:02 left to tie it and Castleton scored two of the final three goals to take a 9-8 lead at the break.
Mariah Lesure pushed the team's lead to 10-8 just 35 seconds into the half, jumpstarting an 11-0 run by the Spartans to put the game out of reach. They scored six times in the next eight minutes and pushed it as high as 20-8 on a goal by Maddy DaCosta off a pass from Cori Healy with 12:03 remaining.
Thomas scored three times in the last seven minutes and Blake Wardwell added a tally with 1:23 left to finish with the 21-12 victory.
Sophomore Kelsey McDonald played the full 60 minutes and made six saves while her counterpart Brittany Fox recorded 11 saves.
Brittany Premo led the Terrier attack with four goals while Jennifer Day and Ceara Dibiase each recorded a hat trick. All three were named to the NAC All-Tournament Team. Thomas concludes its best season in program history with an 11-5 record.
For Castleton, Auer, Flodstrom and Healy were selected to the All-Tournament Team while Whittemore received MVP honors. The Spartans improve to 9-7 with the victory.
Castleton returns to action on Thursday when they host Norwich in a senior game. The Spartans then learn their NCAA fate on Sunday, May 5.
MVP - Brandi Whittemore – Castleton
Kate Auer – Castleton
Amanda Flodstrom – Castleton
Cori Healy – Castleton
Jennifer Day – Thomas
Ceara Dibiase – Thomas
Brittany Premo – Thomas
Morgan Abbott – New England College
Rebecca Harvey – New England College
Emily Child – Husson
Amanda Mora - Husson