Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament semifinals for the third time in the last four years, as the third-ranked Panthers dispatched of fifth-ranked Franklin & Marshall 16-4 Sunday on Kohn Field. The hosts, who extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 20, advance to the semifinals on May 25 in Ashland, Virginia. The Diplomats finish their season with a 17-5 record. Middlebury will face Wesleyan in the semifinals, a 10-7 upset winner at top-ranked Gettysburg. Salisbury will face Tufts on the other semifinal matchup.
The Panthers got off to a fast start, scoring the first five goals of the contest in the opening 8:50. Jane Earley got things rolling with a free-position goal with 3:01 expired, while Grace Getman doubled the lead with another tally originating from the eight-meter line. Free-position scores by Earley and Erin Nicholas extended the lead to four goals, while Earley made it 5-0 in transition, after a caused turnover in the midfield by Kirsten Murphy.
The Diplomats were held without a shot for more than 11 minutes at start the game, before getting on the scoreboard with 18:31 on the clock. Caroline Kolva tallied on a free-position attempt, while Marissa McGarrey converted a feed from Maddie Hughes just 33 seconds later. The hosts closed the half with their second five-goal run of the frame, with Murphy scoring twice in that burst, including a marker with 1:22 remaining on a feed from Emily Barnard for a 10-2 cushion.
Emma McDonagh got the hosts going in the second half, scoring on a strong move to the net just 30 seconds into the new stanza. Following a tally by F&M’s Megan Jackson in transition, the hosts put together their third five-goal run of the game. Barnard cashed in on two player-advantage goals, while Kate Zecca sandwich scores around a marker The Diplomats netted the last goal of the contest with 4:48 on the clock, as Marissa McGarrey made the final 16-4.
Offensively, the Panthers received goals from nine different players with Earley leading the way with four to go along with two assists. Barnard had a hat trick with one assist and Murphy and Zecca each netted a pair. Earley, Sara DiCenso and Emma White collected three ground balls apiece, while Erin Nicholas garnered a game-high six draw controls. Erica Barr had a steady game with three caused turnovers and two draw controls. Julia Keith (18-1) earned the win with two saves in 49:30 of action, while Kate Furber had two stops in 10:30.
F&M had four players net single goals, while Ally Marino and Blair Atkins each had four draws. Diplomat goalie Emily Kitchin (11-2) made 13 saves, to go along with three ground balls and three caused turnovers.
Middlebury held a 35-11 advantage in shots, including a 23-2 difference in the first half, and forced the Diplomats to commit 25 turnovers.
This marked the first meeting between the two programs in the NCAA Tournament, with the teams splitting a pair of regular-season match-ups.
The Panthers reached the 20-win plateau for the third time in program history and the third in the last four springs.