MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Eighth-ranked Trinity (10-2, 7-1) scored three of the final four goals, including the game-winning tally with 10:33 left, and hung on for a key 10-9 NESCAC win against fifth-ranked Middlebury (9-3, 6-3) on Saturday.
In a back-and-forth game where neither team managed more than a two-goal advantage, the Panthers got on the board first with an unassisted score from Bridget Instrum. Following an original shot that Trinity goalie Emily Mooney saved, Instrum collected the rebound in front and found the back of the net. In a six-minute stretch, the Bantams responded with three unanswered goals. Shea Kusiak scored at 23:08, while Molly Cox laced a quick shot off a pinpoint pass from Caroline Hayes. Just over a minute later, Hayes worked down the left side, reverse pivoted and found a cutting Nicole Stauffer on a quick shot for a 3-1 advantage.
Instrum made it 3-2 when she grabbed a loose ball near midfield, and sprinted through the Bantam defense for a score at 16:39. The score remained that way until Kusiak worked her way from behind the net, bouncing a shot into the lower-right corner past Middlebury goalie Alyssa Palomba with 12:15 left.
During the remainder of the opening half, the two teams exchanged goals. Middlebury's Megan Griffin received a long pass from the right side from Chrissy Ritter and fired a high quick shot into the upper left of the Bantam goal. Nearly two minutes later, Trinity's Karly Simpson converted a free-position shot for a 5-3 lead with 5:09 left. With just under three minutes showing on the clock, Chrissy Ritter took the ball from deep in the Middlebury defensive zone, raced up the right side of the field and scored on a low bouncer.
Trinity's Clare Lyne pushed it back to a two-goal advantage at 6-4 with 1:47 left on a quick pass from Kusiak. With 30 seconds left, Middlebury's Liza Herzog worked her way from behind the crease, faked a low shot and found the back of the net past Mooney's right shoulder making it a 6-5 game headed to the intermission.
Middlebury tied the game at 6-6 in the early minutes of the second half. Alli Sciarretta rolled a hard shot into the back of the cage off a pass through defenders from Griffin with 26:53 remaining. Less than a minute later, Lindsay Mullaney was denied by Palomba during a free-position attempt, but gathered the rebound and put her ensuing shot into the back of the net for a 7-6 lead. On the ensuing draw control, Laurel Pascal secured the ball, made one pass to Griffin, who found a cutting Chrissy Ritter from left to right for the Panther goal. Just 33 seconds later, Herzog gave the Panthers their first lead since early in the game. Instrum set up the score when she dodged from behind the cage and found Herzog in front of the crease for the score.
The Bantams regained the lead thanks to a pair of free-position goals. Cox sent a low bouncer that was deflected by Palomba but crossed the goal line at 21:48, while Kusiak also had a low bouncer that the Panther goalie slowed down but went in with 19:06 left. After both teams had scoring opportunities over the next seven minutes, Chrissy Ritter tied the game at 9-9 when she was the recipient of a crisp pass from her sister Katie Ritter, as she showed some nifty stick work for the fast shot from eight yards away. Just over a minute later at the 10:33 mark, Kusiak ran from left to right behind the cage and connected with Cox for a quick shot and the eventual game-winner.
Neither team had many scoring opportunities the remainder of the game as the Bantams hung on for the victory.
Chrissy Ritter led Middlebury with three goals, while Instrum had three points via two goals and a helper to go along with a game-best five groundballs. Catherine Fowler added six draw controls. Palomba (9-3) finished with six saves in goal.
Kusiak's five points on three goals and a pair of assists led all scorers, while Cox also added a hat trick for Trinity. Ashley Stewart and Kathryn DeLillio each collected four groundballs, while Hayes and Lyne each had three draw controls. Mooney (9-2) earned the win with six saves in goal.