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Middlebury celebrates NCAA title

Middlebury Dominates Gettysburg, Secures Ninth NCAA Championship

May 28, 2023
Ray Cox
Keith Lucas

SALEM, Va. – Plays made, questions answered, any last dispute disposed of.

Middlebury College’s terrific performance in the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse tournament solidified this year’s squad’s well-earned reputation as one of this classification’s most dominant teams ever this weekend at Roanoke College’s Kerr Stadium.

The Panthers wrapped up an undefeated season and extended a 28-game winning streak by throttling Gettysburg 17-9 to claim its second consecutive national title amid on-and-off showers Sunday afternoon.

Tournament most outstanding player Hope Shue, a sophomore attacker, scored seven goals and added an assist and a suffocating defense led by Erica Barr and backstopped by goalkeeper Annie Enrietto paced Middlebury (24-0) to its third national title in the last four tournaments and ninth overall with a 17-9 victory over proud Gettysburg.

The Panthers are 70-2 since 2019 and have finished their last three seasons as national champions. There was no tournament in 2020 and Middlebury did not play in 2021 due to the pandemic.

The Bullets (19-5), who came in having won 17 of their last 18 games, never found their offensive footing until late and trailed by 10 goals early in the fourth quarter. A run of four unanswered Gettysburg goals thereafter provided a measure of respectability to the final margin.

Middlebury’s blanket-the-zone defense limited the Bullets to almost nine goals under their team scoring average per game. Jordan Basso and Lily Macatee, named first-team IWLCA All Americans this week who came in with a combined 140 goals scored this season, were held  by the tenacious Panthers defense to two goals scored both by Basso.

Any way you look at it, this was a clash between programs at the pinnacle of the sport. Middlebury and Gettysburg have combined for five of the last six national championships. The Panthers now have nine such crowns, the Bullets three.

“It was a game that really played to our style this year of being dominant on the draw and being really hard to stop offensively,” Middlebury coach Kate Livesay said.

The really hard to stop part was illuminated by the Panthers’ overwhelming 37-19 advantage in shots on goal. Gettysburg goalkeeper Gill Cortese was credited with seven saves.

“I thought their goalie played really, really well,” Livesay said. “But  did a nice job of putting them under pressure. Our defense played really great, really a nice game, especially the first three quarters. The shifts were on point. They were really collapsing to the ball cleanly and really making it difficult for them to see clean shots.”

The Bullets were behind before they could gather their thoughts and were down 7-1 with 6 minutes 45 seconds left in the second quarter.

“Having a slow start to the first half, a slow start to kind of finding where the openings were going to be against that backer defense prevented us from coming out of the gate hot,” said Gettysburg coach Charlotte Cunningham, in her first season as the team’s head coach. “I think Middlebury’s second in the country in goals-against so we knew it was going to be a tough defense and that would force us to be riskier with our ball movement and passes inside.”

The danger in such risk-taking was partially illustrated by the Bullets’ 19 turnovers, 10 in the first half and three more than the Panthers overall. Middlebury’s speed and quickness helped the Panthers capitalize on many or its opponents’ errors.

“Gettysburg has a ton of great attackers,” said Barr, a senior All America defender. “We scouted them heavily. This team is not unfamiliar to us; we played them last year a lot of the same players. The defenders gathered last night after we had a team meeting to go over our individual goals and everything we wanted to do as a group.

“We really followed that game plan for the sets they were going to be in and executed really, really well.”

Along with defense, other factors were big in Middlebury’s winning equation. Ground balls went 19-15 in their favor and draw control stood 19-10, freshman Caroline Adams having a big game in that regard. Those advantages gave the Panthers extra possessions that they used mostly to best advantage.


Middlebury attacker  Hope Shue shoots past Gettysburg goalie Gillian Cortese during Sunday's final.  Shue totaled 15 points in championship weekend wins over Franklin & Marshall and Gettysburg to earn MVP honors.

Shue was everywhere.

“We definitely spent the whole year on setting up our dodges well,” said Shue, who had 15 points total in the semifinal victory over Franklin & Marshall and the championship. “One of our offensive coaches, Amy Patton, is constantly on me about really moving and setting up a good lane. I think that today, especially in a man defense like they were playing a lot of the time with Jane Earley being face-guarded, it gave us good room to be able to execute that well.

 “It was the most open I’ve been able to get in the middle during the season just because of all the space I was getting from my team.”

Earley added two goals and Niki Mormile three more. Julia Daly led Gettysburg with four goals.

Earley, Adams, and Barr joined Shue on the all-tournament team picked from the final four contestants. Basso, Macatee, and Daly were chosen from Gettysburg. Honors also went to Natalie Daniels and Anna Suter of William Smith and Lydia Cassily and Gillian Brennan of Franklin & Marshall.