Elizabeth Ludlow netted the game-winner with just 3:35 remaining in regulation to lift eighth-ranked Amherst to a thrilling 11-10 victory over No. 3 Middlebury on Pratt Field. Down 5-0 in the early going, Middlebury rallied to take a 9-8 lead in the second half before Amherst scored three of the game’s final four goals to seal the hard-fought win. Snapping a three-game losing skid to the Panthers, the Jeffs improved to 7-0 and 4-0 in the NESCAC, while Middlebury dropped to 7-1 and 4-1 in the conference.
Winning the opening draw, Amherst wasted little time getting on the board as Devin O’Connor netted a wrap-around goal just 33 seconds into the game. Doubling the margin, Meghan Mills converted a free position attempt at 24:43, forcing a Middlebury timeout. Four minutes later, Kate Wyeth made good on another Amherst free position to extend the lead to 3-0. Gaining possession on the ensuing draw, O’Connor tallied the Purple & White’s second score in a span of 11 seconds.
With less than 18 minutes to go in the first, Alex Philie found Mills alone in front for the Jeffs’ fifth goal. Linking up with Alli Sciarretta, Mary O’Connell assisted on the Panthers’ first score at 13:30. Just 1:45 later, Krista Zsitvay answered bouncing a shot past Middlebury goalie Alyssa Palomba.
Sciarretta struck again with 8:20 to go in the frame before Rachel Passarelli found the back of the net 24 seconds later to make it 7-2. Rattling off three goals in the final 6:11 of the period, Middlebury trimmed the deficit to two at the intermission. Liza Herzog got the run started before Chrissy Ritter found Bridget Instrum on the back-post with 2:23 showing on the clock. Capping off the stretch, Herzog found a cutting Sciarretta as the Panthers pulled within two, 7-5.
Hoping to switch the momentum, Zsitvay dodged a defender before ducking inside for a goal just 39 seconds into the second. Coming right back, Middlebury scored less than a minute later when O’Connell found Instrum with a pass from behind the net. Just 28 seconds after Instrum’s tally, Herzog buried a free position attempt that suddenly had the Panthers within one. Tracking down a loose ball in front, Sciarretta tied the game at 25:27 before Megan Griffin netted a go-ahead goal that gave the visitors their first lead at 24:14.
Earning a free position following a Middlebury yellow card, Mia Haughton momentarily tied the game with a goal at 16:25. Still knotted at 9-9 approaching the 11 minute mark, O’Connell carried the ball behind the cage before wrapping around for a score. Answering on the other end, Philie tucked a shot inside the left post to once again pull the home team even. With time winding down in regulation, Ludlow ripped a hard shot into the upper right corner to put Amherst on top for good.
Zsitvay, Mills and O’Connor each netted a pair of goals in the victory, while Philie had a goal and an assist to go along with six draw controls and four caused turnovers.
Christy Forrest made four saves in front of the goal to remain unbeaten (7-0), while Palomba finished with six stops for the Panthers.
Sciarretta paced Middlebury with four goals, while Herzog and Instrum each recorded a pair of scores. Hannah Deoul caused four turnovers and picked up four ground balls.
Amherst returns to action on Wednesday, April 2 against Little Three rival Wesleyan, while Middlebury hosts Hamilton on the same day.