WATERVILLE — The Thomas College women’s lacrosse team has a trip to Vermont in its future.
The Terriers rolled over Colby-Sawyer College 14-6 at Smith Field on Tuesday to book a trip to the North Atlantic Conference championship. Thomas (8-5, 5-1 NAC) will take on Castleton State College — which rolled Husson 18-2 in the other semifinal — on Saturday in Castleton, Vt. at a time yet to be determined.
“We’ve seen them already this year,” Thomas coach Lauren Bickford said. “We know what we’re up against and we’re really pumped.”
It was a special day for West Gardiner native Jenn Day on Tuesday, as the junior set the single-season record for goals in program history with 4:27 remaining in the opening half. The record was news to Day after the game, as it was clear individual achievements have not been her primary focus.
“I had no idea there was a record,” she said, “or actually how many goals I had scored this season.
“…I can’t go to the championship, the team goes to the championship and that’s the mindset you have to have in order to really succeed. That’s what we have done as a team in order to get us this far and bring us into Saturday.”
Day finished the afternoon with four goals to bring her career total to 49, but she wasn’t the only local player to have a big day for the Terriers.
Messalonskee grad Miranda Tinsman, a senior, poured in four goals for Thomas, including a pair during a six-goal spurt in the latter part of the first half that allowed the Terriers to break the game open.
While it ultimately turned into a great day for some local athletes and their Thomas teammates, it was the visiting Chargers who got off to the fast start.
Jill Lambert put Thomas ahead 1:16 into the contest, but Colby-Sawyer responded with two straight to take 2-1 lead through the first five minutes.
“I just think because it was a playoff game it was kind of new for a lot of the girls on the team to be involved in that,” Tinsman said. “It wasn’t really nerves, it was just excitement I guess. I don’t think (Colby-Sawyer) did anything significant that caused it, I think it was our own excitement.”
Soon after Erin Nelligan knotted the score though, and Day poured in two straight to give the Terriers a 4-2 advantage.
“I think no matter who does it,” Day said, “that lead in any way helps the transition and gets our spirits up in some way or another.”
Colby-Sawyer’s Sara Berry cut the deficit to 4-3 with 11:36 remaining, but the remainder of the half was all Thomas. The Terriers got two goals each from Day and Tinsman, and one apiece from Lambert and Brittany Premo in the final nine minutes to give the home team a 10-3 lead heading into halftime.
“We knew that they were going to be coming out pretty strong themselves. They just came off of a great win as the six seed,” Bickford said. “We knew they were going to come in strong and we needed to come in stronger. Once the girls kind of found their tempo they ran with it, and figured out how to break their defense and stop them on attack.”
The Chargers (4-13, 1-5 NAC) didn’t come close to threatening for the lead in the second half, as the Terriers effectively worked the clock and got a number of nice saves from Allie McCarthy to close out the win. McCarthy finished with 13 saves, while Nelligan had a hat trick.
Now that the Terriers have made it back to the NAC championship for the second season in a row, they will certainly have their work cut out for themselves. Since entering the NAC in 2012 Castleton (8-6, 6-0 NAC) has yet to lose a league game, a streak that includes 21-12 victory over Thomas in the title game last spring.
“We have a lot more going for this game because this could be a change in the NAC history right now,” Bickford said. “We want to win the championship this year because we had a shot at it last year and we let it slip from our hands. We don’t want it to happen this year.”
In their past two meetings the Terriers have certainly shown in spurts that they can hang with the Spartans. Last spring Castleton only led 9-8 at the half before opening things up in the second half en route to the title. When the two teams met a few weeks ago on April 12 the Terriers had the game tied at 8-8 with 18 minutes remaining when the Spartans rattled off five straight goals to take a 15-11 win.
The message to Thomas based on its last two meetings with Castleton is pretty clear: If the Terriers are going to have a chance they’ll have to put together a full 60 minutes of lacrosse.
“Last year we were tied all the way up until half and we were only down by one and then lost it,” Day said. “We’re going to play a 60 minute game and do our thing.”
Evan Crawley——621-5640 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Evan_Crawley