MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The No. 7 Wesleyan women's lacrosse team (14-2) heads to Middlebury, Vt. this weekend for NESCAC Semifinal action. The Cardinals, seeded No. 3 in the conference tournament, will play second-seeded and nationally ranked No. 5 Tufts (15-1) at 3 p.m. on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the championship game scheduled for Sunday, May 5 at 1 p.m.
Wesleyan defeated sixth-seeded Colby last Saturday at home, 14-12, to advance to its first-ever NESCAC Semifinal. Caitlin Wood led the team with four goals and Sydney Prokupek dished out a team-high three assists, while scoring one herself. Abigail Horst and Kat Cucullo added three goals each, while Horst led the defense with two caused turnovers and was named the NESCAC and IWLCA Player of the Week.
Tufts earned a 12-5 victory over seventh-seeded Trinity in the Quarterfinals. Ahead 6-4 at halftime, the Jumbos pulled away in the second half. Courtney Grygiel led the team with four points (3 g, 1 a), while four others scored four goals apiece. Defensively, Lily Baldwin and Hedy Veith led the way with two caused turnovers each and goalie Molly Laliberty made 12 saves in just 30 minutes while allowing just one goal.
Earlier this year, Wesleyan held a 7-5 halftime advantage over the Jumbos and were tied 10-10 with 12:40 to play, but Tufts closed out the game on a 7-0 run at home to prevail 17-10. Saturday's game is the first-ever postseason meeting between the two teams.
AT A GLANCE: WESLEYAN
- The Cardinals have set numerous program records this year, including overall wins (14) and NESCAC victories (8). Most recently, they had four All-Conference selections, which is their most ever, and all four earned first team honors – Abigail Horst, Caroline Sgaglione, Allegra Grant, and Abby Manning.
- Last week, Horst reached the 100-career point and 100-career goal milestones to become just the fifth player in program history to score 100 goals and the 18th to record 100 points.
- Manning is currently tied for first in the NESCAC with 55 goals, which is also a single-season program record, while her 61 points are tied for a single-season mark and rank third-best in the league.
- Prokupek sits third in the NESCAC in assists (23), and Grant ranks third in goals-against average (7.64).
- Offensively, the Cardinals are fourth in the conference in scoring (13.63 gpg) and second in shooting percentage (47.4).
- Wesleyan boasts one of the best defenses in the league, as it ranks second in goals-against average (7.68) and third in caused turnovers (182).
AT A GLANCE: TUFTS
- The Jumbos swept the NESCAC's yearly awards as Dakota Adamec was named Player of the Year, Hedy Veith was named Defensive Player of the Year, Colette Smith was named Rookie of the Year, and head coach Courtney Shute was named Co-Coach of the Year. Adamec and Veith were both named All-NESCAC First Team, while Emily Games and Annie Sullivan earned second team honors.
- Games ranks fifth in the conference in goals (44) and fifth in points (58), while Adamec, the NESCAC Player of the Year, ranks 10th in goals (40) and 13th in points (47).
- Tufts' freshman goalie Molly Laliberty has played just 360:02 minutes between the posts but she leads the league in goals-against (42) and save percentage (55.8%), and ranks second in goals-against average (7.00). She owns a 5-1 record, while senior goalie Audrey Evers is 10-0 with 582:53 minutes logged and is fourth in the conference in save percentage (52.0).
- Tufts' potent offense leads the league in scoring, averaging 16.19 goals per game, and is first in shooting percentage with a 48.0 clip.
- The Jumbos also lead the NESCAC is save percentage (53.3) and rank third in goals-against average (8.02), but have caused just 127 turnovers which ranks 10th in the league.