May 9, 2009

Courtesy of Hamilton

Defending NCAA Division III champion and nationally ranked No. 6 Hamilton College held off upset-minded No. 17 Williams College in an NCAA tournament regional semi-final contest played at Colby College's Bill Alfond Field on May 9.

Hamilton (15-2 overall) advances to face No. 9 Middlebury College at Colby in the regional final at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 10. Middlebury defeated the host No. 3 Mules 9-3 in the first regional semifinal. The Continentals last played the Panthers in a 2008 NCAA regional final at Hamilton, where the hosts won 9-7 in a thrilling contest.

Hamilton jumped out to a 3-0 lead in a low-scoring first half of action. Audrey Nebergall '10 notched two of her team-high three goals in the opening stanza, both on free position shots. Hilary Saverin '10 scored another in between Nebergall's goals, on an assist from Kaillie Briscoe '09. Briscoe finished the game with one goal and two assists.

Hamilton held a 13-8 advantage in shots on goal, but was out-shot, 16-13 by a tenacious Williams squad in the second. Hamilton's Sarah Bray '11 opened the second half scoring on a set-up from Liz Rave '10 3:15 into the period before Williams got on the scoreboard 27 seconds later. Kate Marek '09 punched in an unassisted goal for a 6-1 lead with 23:32 left to play. Bray finished with two goals and two draw controls, and Marek added an assist for Hamilton.

The underdog Ephs reeled off three straight goals to cut their deficit to just 6-4 with 18:02 left to play. The teams exchanged goals until Hamilton held an 8-5 advantage with 9:28 on the clock. Williams was not ready to fold and put together another two-run rally to close the gap to 8-7 with 5:47 left to play.

The game was up for grabs in the remaining minutes, but Hamilton held off a final Williams push for the win. Kate Fowler '10 made eight stops and picked up two ground balls in goal for Hamilton. The Continentals finished with a slight 14-12 advantage in ground balls, and committed three fewer turnovers than the Ephs (14-11).

Josie Jones '12 finished with a team-high four ground balls. Rave won two draw controls.

Williams finishes the season at 13-7 overall.