Middlebury Field Hockey and Women’s Soccer Advance in NCAA Play

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

The Middlebury Field Hockey and Women’s Soccer teams both advanced in NCAA Tournament play on Sunday. Stories on both games follow below …

MIDDLEBURY … The second-ranked Middlebury field hockey team scored three times in the opening 10 minutes on their way to a 5-1 triumph over The College of New Jersey (16-5) on Sunday in NCAA Tournament action. The victory sends the Panthers to the NCAA final four for the fourth time in the last five years. Middlebury, the defending national champions, advances to the NCAA Semifinals on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. against undefeated and third-ranked Rowan at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, Pennsylvania. The other semifinal features fourth-ranked Tufts and ninth-ranked Johns Hopkins at 11:00 a.m. Saturday’s winners advance to the NCAA Championship on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Seventh-ranked TCNJ finished its season at 16-5.

Middlebury raced out to an early lead, scoring 2:27 into the contest. The play started with a penalty corner, as Marissa Baker fed Emma Johns on the left wing with a short pass. After collecting the ball, Johns fired a shot past TCNJ keeper Maddie Beaumont. The Panther struck again just over five minutes later, as Erin Nicholas weaved through the Lion defense and flipped a shot into the cage for her team-leading 15th goal of the season.

Following a timeout by the Lions immediately after the score, Middlebury quickly made it a three-goal cushion when Grace Jennings used her speed to create a scoring chance, resulting in a tally from close range with 26:39 on the clock.

TCNJ’s Jackie Schwartz made a nice defensive save on Jennings with 13:39 left in the half to keep the difference at three, while Tori Hannah had a quality scoring chance for the visitors in the final minute. Hannah took a pass from Samantha Reed off a penalty corner on the right side and laced a shot off the right post.

In the second stanza, the Panthers had a couple of early penalty corners, but the visitors held their ground. Middlebury eventually increased the advantage to 4-0 when Meg Fearey tapped in a pass from Baker. The hosts made it a 5-0 contest with 18:26 remaining, as Baker blasted a shot from the top of the arc on a penalty corner. Isabel Chandler inserted the ball with Jennings being the stopper, as both players earned assists on the play.

The Lions came close to getting on the scoreboard with 12:30 left in the game on a shot from the right side by Hannah, but Panther goalie Megan Collins kicked the bid aside. The visitors spoiled the shutout with 9:53 on the clock, on a hard shot from the top of the arc by Sidney Padilla.

Collins posted a pair of saves to earn the win in goal for Middlebury, while Beaumont stopped eight for the Lions.

The hosts held a 20-5 edge in shots and boasted an 11-3 margin in penalty corners.

The win gave the Middlebury a 4-3 advantage in the all-time series against TCNJ, with each meeting coming in the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers also finished with a perfect 12-0 record at home this season and have won 22-straight games on Kohn Field dating back to September of 2017.

MIDDLEBURY … Third-ranked Middlebury won an NCAA Regional for the eighth time in program history, as the Panthers (16-1-3) went scoreless for 110 minutes with Ithaca on Sunday at South Street Field, advancing by a 3-0 tally on penalty kicks. The Bombers end their season with a 14-2-4 mark.

Middlebury advances to the NCAA Sectionals where it will meet 12th-ranked Swarthmore next Saturday at a site to be determined.

A majority of the first-half play occurred in the midfield. The Bombers greatest chance came on their first shot of the match in the 28th minute when McKensie Galusha’s attempt following a free kick went wide left. The Panthers produced a pair of quality scoring chances, with their best opportunity coming in the 31st minute. Eliza Robinson collected a bouncing ball seven yards away on the right, volleying a shot that Ithaca goalkeeper Stacey DiGiorgio punched wide of the near post.

The second half also had few chances for both sides. The hosts’ best look came in the 75th minute when Amanda Dafonte ripped a 20-yard shot from the right that knuckled into the arms of DiGiorgio. Ithaca looked to get on the scoreboard with time winding down after a Middlebury foul. Reid Garner took the free kick, sending a low bouncing attempt from 30 yards out that Panther keeper Ursula Alwang smothered.

In the first extra session, Middlebury had a chance near the midway point when Alex Barber volleyed a cross on the left post that DiGiorgio caught. Just over a minute later following a Panther foul, a bouncing shot from 40 yards out by Garner was corralled by Alwang on the left post.

The second overtime had a shot from Garner thwarted by Alwang in the first minute. Middlebury had its best opportunity a minute later when Dafonte sent a shot from 15 yards out that DiGiorgio stopped, as the match ended in a scoreless tie.

During penalty kicks, Sara DiCenso, Ellie Greenberg and Cate Shellenback each made their attempts to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage. As she did in the NESCAC Semifinals, Middlebury goalie Eva Shaw came off the bench to face the penalty kicks. She saved attempt by Ithaca’s Brady Lynch on the right side of the net, stopped a bending shot by Sam Robinson and sent the Panthers to the sectional round when she denied Ithaca’s Ally Christman on the left post.

In goal for the Panthers, Alwang finished with five saves, while DiGiorgio had nine stops for the Bombers. Middlebury held a 23-6 advantage in shots and took all six corner kicks.

The Panthers are now 20-10 during NCAA play, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1997 and 2011, while taking part in the 2013 final four.