CORTLAND, N.Y. – Holding a narrow 10-8 lead in the second half, Castleton's offense came alive, outscoring the opposition 9-2 over the final 15:59 of play to capture the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory with a 19-10 decision over Morrisville St. at host institution Cortland St. on Saturday afternoon.
The Spartans turned in a solid, all-around performance, as they outshot the opposition 37-26 while also scooping up 26 groundballs and winning 22 of the 30 draw controls. With the win, Castleton extends its winning streak to 16 games and improves to 17-2 overall. The Mustangs, meanwhile, finish their 2015 campaign with an 11-8 mark after making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Kate Auer paced the attack with a season-high ten points from six goals and four assists to go along with seven draw controls and three caused turnovers. With this performance, the senior attack now has 96 points on the season, breaking the previous single-season scoring record of 95 held by Nicole Adams (2009).
Fellow senior Maddy DaCosta helped shoulder the scoring load with five goals of her own, while senior Mariah Lesure finished the day with six points (2g, 4a), two groundballs and two caused turnovers. For Morrisville St., Hunter Waldau and DeeAnna Rammelt led the squad with a combined seven goals.
Castleton wasted little time to jump out in front, as DaCosta opened the scoring with her 48th goal of the season just 1:42 into the first half. Waldau got the Mustangs on the board less than a minute later to bring the game back to level terms before Auer scored twice in a row to hand the Spartans a 3-1 lead at the 19:49 mark in the first.
Trailing by two, Ally Zlinsky scored back-to-back, unassisted goals in a span of one minute to even the score at three. Auer followed with her third goal of the day to reclaim the lead for Castleton before Waldau responded with her 63rd goal of the year to make it 4-4.
The Spartans closed out the first half with scores from Grace Johnson and DaCosta in the final 2:43 of play to take a 7-5 lead over the Mustangs heading into the break.
Just 21 seconds into the second half, Lesure scored her first goal of the afternoon to hand the Spartans a three-goal lead. Morrisville St. showed its resiliency, however, as Rammelt found the back of the cage twice in a span of 3:55 to bring the Mustangs back within one at 8-7.
DaCosta and Brianna MacKay registered back-to-back scores to push the Spartan advantage back to three, but Waldau's third goal of the day made it 10-8 with 16:12 remaining in the game. From here on, it was all Castleton, as the squad outscored the opposition 9-2 over the final 15:59 of play, including two goals from Brandi Whittemore, to secure the Spartans' place in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament with a 19-10 victory.
Rachel Bombardier maintained her perfect mark on the season by producing 11 saves with a 52.4 save percentage to improve to 7-0 overall. Cailin Dunphy, meanwhile, suffered the loss after stopping 12 of the 31 shots that she faced.
Castleton is back in action tomorrow afternoon, as it takes on Cortland St. at 11 am in second round action of the NCAA Division III Tournament.