Women's Lacrosse Edges Out Mount Holyoke, 18-17, in NEWMAC Quarterfinal Thriller

Sophomore Isabella DiDio
Sophomore Isabella DiDio

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore midfielder Isabella DiDio (Jenkintown, Pa.) netted the game-winning goal with 1:16 to play, lifting the fourth-seeded MIT women's lacrosse team to an 18-17 come-from-behind victory over fifth-seeded Mount Holyoke College in the quarterfinal game of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament on Wednesday night.

With the victory, the Engineers improve to 12-5 overall, and advance to Saturday's semifinal game at top-seeded Wheaton College at 12:00 p.m. It marks their first trip to the semifinal round since the 2011 season. The Lyons, meanwhile, slipped to 8-8 on the season.

Down 17-15 with 9:36 remaining in the game, MIT mounted an impressive comeback, anchored by a back-to-back goal effort from freshman Hannah Levy (Yardley, Pa.). The game scoring leader with six tallies, Levy notched her most important of the contest at the 1:31 mark as she battled through the middle to stuff it in at the top corner.

DiDio, who added four tallies, struck with 1:15 left on the clock as the Engineers took advantage of a foul on the Lyons for the free position and eventual game-winning tally. MIT won the ensuing draw control afterwards and maintained control in its own offensive zone, letting the clock wind down for the victory.

The first half of the contest saw MIT open a 7-2 lead before MHC stormed back into the game. Junior Kirsten Kilburn (North Branford, Conn.) scored the final three goals of the first half – over the final 1:23 of the stanza – to make it a 10-9 game in favor of the Engineers at halftime. She then tacked on her fifth tally of the game at 29:18 to tie it at 10.

Subsequent goals from seniors Brianne Phelan (Quincy, Mass.) and Liz Randolph (Southbury, Conn.), as well as freshman Charlotte Wagner (West Chester, Pa.) over the next two minutes pushed the visitors out to a 13-10 advantage with 26:23 to play in the second half.

MIT battled back once more as DiDio notched her second of the contest at 25:19, followed by two straight tallies from sophomore Kira Schott (New Canaan, Conn.) to tie the contest at 13 with 21:35 remaining. It would be DiDio minutes later that pushed the Cardinal and Gray back into the lead as she wove through the defense in the arc for the score.

The Lyons responded with three straight tallies a few minutes later, including a pair from Naomi Miller (Augusta, Maine), to give them a 16-14 cushion with 15:19 remaining. Miller's second effort materialized after a miscue by the Engineers in their defensive end following the draw that caused junior goalie Candice Kaplan (Arlington, Va.) to come out of net. During the clearing attempt, Kaplan's pass was intercepted by Miller who then flung the ball at the open net for the uncontested goal.

An exchange of goals followed before an unassisted extra-player strike by Levy cut MIT's deficit in half (17-16) with 7:40 on the clock. MHC won the draw and held the ball for over four minutes until a turnover resulted in freshman Devin Williams (Herndon, Va.) collecting the groundball with 2:56 to go. Levy eventually buried the equalizer as DiDio's free-position blast completed the comeback.

For MIT, Levy paced the way with her six tallies. She also added three ground balls and four draw controls. DiDio added four tallies, five ground balls and two draw controls, while Schott chipped in with four markers, an assist, four ground balls, six draw controls and two caused turnovers.

Mount Holyoke saw Kilburn post five goals and two assists, while also adding a game-best eight draw controls, four ground balls and a caused turnover. Randolph had four tallies and an assist, while Phelan chipped in with three goals, an assist and three ground balls. Sophomore Catherine Ryan (Longmeadow, Mass.) also added a game-best three assists with a goal for MHC.

In the cage, MIT saw make three saves, while her counterpart, MHC sophomore Katherine Kayser-Hirsh (Amherst, Mass.) stopped eight shots.

MIT owned the game advantage in shots (30-21), ground balls (18-15) and draw controls (22-14). MHC was 11-12 on the clear, while the Engineers were 9-10.

Release courtesy of Mount Holyoke College Sports Information