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Defending champion women's lacrosse has major playoff test

WATERVILLE, Maine -- The Colby College women's lacrosse team heads into the New England Small College Athletic Conference playoffs as the defending champions and a team with a reputation of winning big games.

The seventh-seeded Mules (9-6 overall) will visit second-seeded Amherst College (14-1) in a league quarterfinal game Saturday at noon. 
Colby, ranked 16th nationally, showed Wednesday that it can still put out victories in big games. The Mules needed to beat Bates College in a road game and made it happen in an 8-7 overtime victory on Wednesday to advance to the playoffs.
Last year's road to the NESCAC title was full of big wins, starting with an overtime quarterfinal win over Wesleyan University. The Mules then won hard-fought games against Middlebury College in a semifinal and Trinity College in the league final.
Amherst (14-1 overall), ranked second in the country, took a 13-12 win over the Mules in the season opener. Emma Banks had four goals and one assist for Colby. Maia Noyes had a big collegiate debut with three goals and four assists for the Mammoths. 
The Mammoths have the best defense in the NESCAC, allowing just 6.36 goals per game. The Mules, however, had the second-highest goal total against Amherst behind only Tufts (13 goals). Colby had early leads of 3-1 and 4-2 in the first half and were up 8-5 in the second half.
Sasha Fritts leads the Mules in scoring with 49 goals and three assists for 52 points, while Kendall Smith has 34 goals and nine assists for 43 points. Banks has her season totals at 23 goals and seven assists for 30 points. 
Maddie Hatch leads Colby's midfield with 33 draw controls, 25 ground balls, 16 caused turnovers, and 11 goals. Mule defenders Melinda Edie (24 caused turnovers, 35 ground balls) and Jackie Brokaw (24 caused turnovers, 30 ground balls) have similar statistics. Kelsey Otley has 14 caused turnovers and 17 ground balls.
The Mammoths, whose only loss is to Middlebury, is led by defender Sabrina Solow (32 caused turnovers, 40 ground balls) and goaltender Talia Land (6.74 goals against average).
Despite the solid defense, Amherst has the ability to score goals. Julia Crerend (45 goals, 9 assists), Claire Dunbar (24 goals, 22 assists), Noyes (23 goals,  21 assists), and Isabelle Sennett (22 goals, 11 assists) are the top four scorers.
Colby, which has won three NESCAC titles, has a 3-0 record against Amherst in the league playoffs. The last win was in 2013. The Mammoths are looking for their first NESCAC championship.
Colby has an all-time record of 20-14 in the NESCAC playoffs, with the three titles and three runner-up finishes. The Mammoths are 18-17 in the conference playoffs and have six runner-up finishes.

2018 NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship

Saturday, April 28 at Higher Seeds

Quarterfinal Games

No. 8 Hamilton at No. 1 Middlebury – 12 p.m.

No. 7 Colby at No. 2 Amherst – 12 p.m.

No. 6 Trinity at No. 3 Tufts – 12 p.m.

No. 5 Wesleyan at No. 4 Bowdoin – 12 p.m.

Saturday, May 5 at Highest Remaining Seed

Semifinal Games – 12 p.m./2:30 p.m.

Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed

Remaining Quarterfinal Round Winners

Sunday, May 6 at Semifinal Site

Final – 1 p.m.

Semifinal Winners