Field Hockey: Middlebury Advances to Final Four With 3-0 Victory Over William Smith

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

GENEVA, NY — The Middlebury field hockey team has advanced to the NCAA final four for the second-straight season and seventh time overall after a 3-0 victory over host and sixth-ranked William Smith on Sunday in an NCAA regional final on McCooey Field. Middlebury, playing in its sixth-straight NCAA quarterfinal, will meet second-ranked The College of New Jersey on Saturday in a national semifinal at 2:00 p.m. on the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington, Virginia. The other semifinal features top-ranked Bowdoin and fourth-ranked Ursinus playing at 11:00 a.m. William Smith concludes its season at 18-3.

The Panthers started the game inducing four penalty corners in the opening 10 minutes of play, but couldn’t find the back of the cage. In the 12th minute, the Herons had a great opportunity when Hannah Wood ripped a shot from the right side eight feet away, but Middlebury goalie Emily Miller kicked the shot away with her left pad.

A little more than two minutes later at 13:11, the Panthers got on the board on their fifth penalty corner. After the insertion, Annie Leonard dribbled toward the middle of the field, sending a shot toward the left side of the cage. Pam Schulman was positioned on the near post, as the junior tapped in the Leonard pass for her 17th goal this season.

Middlebury played with an extra player following a five-minute yellow card, taking advantage on its ninth penalty corner of the game. Schulman dribbled to her right inside the circle, sending a pass to Leonard, who redirected the ball off a Heron defender into the cage for a 2-0 lead at 28:54. The Panthers took that two-goal advantage into the halftime break with a 10-2 shot advantage and 10-0 edge in penalty corners.

In the second half, William Smith had a great scoring chance in the 43rd minute on a penalty corner when Alessandra Patrizio’s attempt from the right was kicked away by Miller’s left pad. Much of the next 15 minutes were played in the midfield with neither team having a scoring chance.

The Herons pulled goalie Biz Chirco with 4:08 left in regulation in favor of an extra attacker. With the William Smith netminder out of her cage, Leonard tacked on Middlebury’s third goal at 66:54, dribbling in from 20 yards out for her 23rd goal on an assist by Anna Kenyon. With the goal, Leonard moves into a fourth-place tie in the Middlebury single-season record books with Heidi Howard’s total from the 1998 season.

Middlebury held a 17-5 shots advantage for the game as well as a 13-7 edge in penalty corners. Miller made four saves in goal for the Panthers for her seventh shutout this season, while Chirco was credited with nine stops for the Herons.

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