CASTLETON, Vt. – Top seed Castleton University defeated fourth seed Husson University, 15-8, Sunday afternoon in rainy conditions at Spartan Stadium in the first semifinal of the 2018 North Atlantic Conference Women's Lacrosse Tournament.
With the victory, Castleton improved to 10-6 and clinched its spot as the host of the NAC Tournament title game Saturday, May 5, at a time to be determined. Husson sees its season end at 6-8.
After several minutes of back-and-forth action, Castleton finally broke through with 5:48 gone from the contest, as Hannah Braman found Erin Shuttle for her first goal of the day. Nadine Downing fed Emily Cross for another Spartan goal just 1:12 later, and then Shuttle picked up her second tally of the game with 21:38 remaining in the first half to extend the Castleton lead to 3-0.
Husson battled back with its own three-goal streak, starting midway through the first half as Amanda Deshaies found Paige Daigle for a goal. Just over a minute later, Deshaies picked up her own goal, and then she helped Daigle score her second goal of the match, tying the contest at 3-3 with 11:16 remaining in the opening half.
The home team took the lead for good with 9:30 left in the first half as Cross scored again off an assist by Allison Lowell. That started a stretch of five unanswered goals for the Spartans, with Cross scoring the first and fifth goals of the span while Braman earned two assists during that period.
Deshaies closed out the scoring in the first half with 1:25 left on the clock, and then she opened the second half scoring just 2:11 after halftime to close the Eagle deficit to 8-5. That would remain the score until almost 11 minutes elapsed in the second half, as Cross found Braman for her first goal of the game, but Deshaies answered just 39 seconds later to bring the Spartan margin back down to three at 9-6.
Exactly one minute after Deshaies's most recent goal, Shuttle earned an unassisted goal, but Maddy Olsen picked up her own unassisted tally exactly one minute later to again bring the Eagles within three at 10-7. Castleton finally pulled away with four unanswered goals, including free position tallies by Braman and Downing as well as unassisted goals from Shuttle and Cross. The two teams exchanged goals 1:31 apart late in the half to create the final result of 15-8.
Cross finished with four goals and one assist, while Braman earned two goals and three assists and Shuttle also scored four goals. Downing ended up with two goals, one assist, six ground balls, and six draw controls. Defensively, Megan Wood led the Spartans with four caused turnovers, and Samantha Hebb made 10 saves as she earned her ninth victory of the season.
Deshaies was a factor in all but one goal for Husson, as she finished with five goals, two assists, nine ground balls, three draw controls, and five caused turnovers. Husson goalie Mallory Burchill kept the Eagles in the game with 19 saves for a .559 save percentage, including 13 saves in the first half.
As a team, the Spartans took 41 total shots, including 34 shots on goal, collected 36 ground balls, and caused 20 of Husson's 34 turnovers. The Eagles could not take advantage of certain opportunities, going 0-for-6 on free position attempts in the first half and not scoring on any of the three player-advantage situations as Castleton collected three yellow cards during the game.
Castleton will host the winner of the second semifinal game between third seed New England College and second seed Colby-Sawyer College, to take place in New London, N.H., Monday, April 30, starting at 1 p.m.