The Earley Show Brings NCAA Division III Championship to Middlebury


Jane Earley matched her career-high with six goals and set a Middlebury single-season record with 99 points as the Panthers beat Tufts 13-5 in the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse final.

It’s been 1,099 days since then-freshman Jane Earley helped lead Middlebury to the 2019 NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship.

A lot has changed since then. The 2020 season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out the NCAA championship. While many schools around the country competed in 2021 coming out of the pandemic, including several of Middlebury’s New England Small College Athletic Conference rivals, the Panthers did not.

Instead, Middlebury watched Salisbury, the team it beat in the 2019 final, beat its NESCAC rival, Tufts, to capture the 2021 championship.

But on Sunday at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., it seemed like nothing had changed since that May day in 2019 when Middlebury ruled the roost. Earley scored three of the first six goals of the game to stake Middlebury to an early 5-1 lead over Tufts and the Panthers went on to beat the Jumbos, 13-5, capturing their eighth NCAA title overall and third since 2016.

It was the rubber match of the season between the two NESCAC schools and avenged Middlebury’s only loss, a 9-8 setback in the NESCAC championship game on May 8.

Middlebury’s eight-goal final margin was not reflective of the tense battle that held for much of the game.

After Middlebury’s early 5-1 lead, Margie Carden and Mae Briody scored back-to-back goals for Tufts early in the second quarter and then the defenses took over. There were no goals over the final 10 minutes of the first half and just one goal each in the third quarter.

That left Middlebury clinging to a 6-4 lead entering the fourth quarter. Middlebury's Grace Getman scored less than a minute into the fourth quarter, but Tufts had an immediate answer as Kathryn Delaney scored just 24 seconds later to get the margin back to two.

But then it was time for “The Earley Show.”

Earley, the one-time Boston College commit who scored more than 400 goals in her high school career at Falmouth (Mass.) Academy before deciding to play collegiately at the Division III level, scored the next three goals of the game to spark a game-closing six-goal run for Middlebury.

When it was all said and done, Earley tied her career-high with six goals and added an assist to finish the year with a Middlebury single-season record of 99 points, breaking the mark of 96 set by Amy DiAdamo in 1997. The six goals gave her 80 for the season, adding on to the school record she broke earlier this year.

Getman had a pair of goals for Middlebury (22-1), both of them coming during the Panthers’ seven-goal fourth quarter, and Susan Rowley also scored twice. Erica Barr had two caused turnovers and four groundballs to lead a dominant defensive effort by Middlebury that held Tufts to just 15 shots.

Briody had a goal and two assists to lead the Tufts offense and Molly Laliberty made nine saves, including seven in the first half to keep the Jumbos (19-4) in contention.

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