Castleton, Vt. - The Spartans advanced to their fifth consecutive North Atlantic Conference Championship with a 3-2 win over Maine-Farmington on Tuesday afternoon at Spartan Stadium. Dominique Valancius finished with two goals while Mallory Costello earned a goal and an assist.
Mallory Costello scored the first goal of the semifinal in the 11th minute of play. The forward collected the ball near the left corner of the 18-yard box, and ripped a curling shot aross the face of the goal. The ball beat UMF goalkeeper Beth Lebel and found side netting to put Castleton up 1-0.
Just 2:10 later, Castleton extended their lead. Dominique Valancius broke down the right flank and got off a ground-ball shot that squeaked past Lebel and into the left side of the net to put the Spartans ahead 2-0.
Maine-Farmington's best opportunity came in the 28th minute off of a corner kick. Meryl Bond delivered the ball into he mixer where Katie Clark got her head to the ball directing it goalwards, over the reach of Spartan keeper Jessica Binkowski. The ball was destined for the net, but Kelsey Lenney was standing on the goal line and cleared the ball before it crossed the plane.
In the second half, Maine-Farmington mounted a serious comeback, cutting the lead in half in the 61st minute. Kayla Tuttle received a pass across the face of the goal from Ava Amador and one-touched it into the net.
Castleton regained a two-goal advantage in the 67th minute when Costello found Valancius in the box for a goal. The freshman's second goal of the game gave the Spartans a 3-1 edge late in the game.
Maine-Farmington continued battling and broke through again with just 1:02 left in the game. Amador finished off a half-volley from the six-yard line off a bouncing pass from Katie Clark. The forward's tally made the score 3-2, but the Beavers' assault ended there as Castleton held on for the final minute of play.
Binkowski finished with two saves in the game earning the win. Beth Lebel made one save and allowed two goals in the first half, and was relieved by Amy Jones in the second half. Jones made a pair of saves and allowed one goal.
The Spartans will face Colby-Sawyer in a rematch of last season's NAC Championship. The Spartans came out victorious in last season's contest, beating the Chargers 2-1 in the title game. Costello scored both of Castleton's goals last season.