Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information
BRUNSWICK, MAINE — The Middlebury field hockey team saw its hopes of a fourth-straight NESCAC Championship come to an end, falling by a score of 2-1 at Bowdoin on Sunday. The Panthers (16-2) had beaten the Polar Bears (18-0) in each of the last three NESCAC title games, but top-ranked Bowdoin exacted some revenge on Sunday. The Polar Bears receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Panthers, whose only two losses have come at the hands of Bowdoin, are expected to receive an at-large bid.
Bowdoin’s Clara Belitz and Middlebury’s Emily Miller each made a pair of saves to keep the game scoreless through the opening 12 minutes before the Polar Bears struck at the 12:02 mark. Kimmy Ganong fired a shot at Miller who made the initial save, only to see Rachel Kennedy extend toward the right post and put away the rebound for the 1-0 lead.
Molly Freeman responded seven minutes later for Middlebury, tallying the equalizer 19:11 into play. Several players crowded the center of the circle to the left of the stroke line, battling for a neutral ball. Freeman popped a shot into the air that deflected off Belitz’s blocker and into the back of the cage.
Miller saved another Kennedy attempt with nine minutes remaining to keep the game tied at 1-1, while the Middlebury defense came up with a big block on Kelsey Mullaney’s corner drive in the final four minutes of the opening half.
Emily McColgan scored the game-winner for Bowdoin 19 minutes into the second half following a broken corner. The Panthers’ defense disrupted Bowdoin’s corner and the resulting play left the loose ball skidding towards the left side of the circle. McColgan collected the ball and flicked a shot through an open hole to tally Bowdoin’s second tally.
Bowdoin nearly added a third goal a couple minutes later, but Caroline Knapp denied the Polar Bears on the right post.
The Middlebury attack consistently pressured Bowdoin in the midfield and defense, finding its way through for one final shot by Audrey Quirk in the last seven minutes.
The Panthers pulled their goalie with 1:36 remaining in the game in favor of an additional attacker, but the Polar Bears held on for the win.
Bowdoin outshot Middlebury by an 11-5 margin, while both team earned three corners and each keeper made four saves.