Petesch, Colby Sinks Hamilton Late
from press release
CORTLAND, N.Y. - The Colby College women's lacrosse team is headed back to the NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinals for the second straight year after scoring the final four goals of the game, including the game-winning tally by Tess Petesch with 13 seconds remaining, in a wild 6-5 victory over Hamilton College on Saturday at Cortland State.
The eighth-ranked Mules had arguably the toughest road of any team in the tourney. Hamilton was ranked third in the country and ended the season at 18-2 and now the Mules will meet fourth-ranked Cortland State in a quarterfinal game Sunday at 1 p.m. for the right to head to the NCAA Final Four next weekend in New Jersey. The Red Dragons took a 13-7 win over Tufts University in the other second round game at Cortland. The Mules beat Cortland in a second round game a year ago. The winner of Sunday's game moves on to the national semifinals at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., on Saturday, May 21.
Colby fell behind 4-0 in the first half and trailed 5-2 about eight minutes into the second half. The Mules, like they have a few times this year and many times in the past, fought back gamely.
"Even when we got down we struck to the game plan," Colby head coach Karen MacCrate Henning said. "We had hit the post it seemed like four or five times, so we knew the chances were there. We just needed to capitalize on some chances and we did it."
The Mules started the comeback when Lindsey McKenna, the New England Small College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, scored off an assist from junior Claire Donegan with 20:13 remaining. The teams went more than 10 minutes without a goal after that until McKenna scored her 42nd goal of the season with 10:02 remaining off another pass from Donegan to make it 5-4.
"When Lindsey's able to receive the ball in front, she can put it away and that's not always easy for everybody," MacCrate Henning said. "She's able to go righty or lefty and is tough to stop."
With time ticking away, Hamilton likely would have clinched the game with another goal. However, Colby's defense buckled down and refused to allow the Continentals to score another goal. The Mules gave up just one goal in the final 35:52 of the game to spark the comeback.
"The defense played so well together," MacCrate Henning said. "We had to step out and defend late in the game when they tried to slow it down and we caused some turnovers in those situations."
Pistel, an All-NESCAC First Team selection and likely an All-American when the awards are announced, came up with the biggest goal of her two-year Colby career with an unassisted score with just 2:29 to play. Pistel may have been riled up after being accessed a yellow card with a little over seven minutes to play, forcing her to sit out for three minutes.
Pistel was not done with that goal and put on an amazing display of lacrosse in the final 30 seconds. She caused a turnover by Hamilton's Sarah Bray, who is one of the top all-around players in the country, with 25 seconds left and immediately scooped up the groundball. She raced down the field and had the assist as Petesch scored one of the biggest goals in Colby women's lacrosse history.
"She was called for a dangerous check on that yellow card and I think Kate needed those three minutes to refocus," MacCrate Henning said. "I think she came out more focused after the three minutes, had that fire in her belly, and took her game to the next level. She realized she couldn't let something like that happen again and needed to make things happen for us."
Pistel used her speed to get down field on the game-winning play and drew a defender toward her and got the ball to Petesch, who took her time and went lefty and bounced a shot past Hamilton keeper Dewi Caswell.
Hamilton came out strong and received two straight goals from Rachel Friedman in the first nine minutes of the contest. Friedman finished her season with 70 goals. Libby Schultz made it 3-0 with 14:15 to play and then Bray tallied with 5:52 to intermission.
Colby stuck around when Pistel tallied unassisted just 24 seconds later after the Mules won the draw control. McKenna then scored her 40th goal of the season off a pass from Alex Mintz and it was a 4-2 game at the break.
Schultz scored her second goal of the game just 2:40 into the second half, but the Continentals would not score again thanks to Colby goalie Sarah Warnke (6 saves) and the defense.
"Claire did a great job on No. 23 (Bray) and we really limited their fast-break opportunities," MacCrate Henning said. "They had been able to fast-break on us in previous games."
Colby did the job against a high-powered offensive team and will get another high-scoring team Sunday in Cortland.
"They are athletic, they play high-pressure defense, and they do well on draw controls," MacCrate Henning said. "We need to be able to control the tempo of the game like we did today. I think that after beating them last year they aren't going to be looking past us."