Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information
LEXINGTON, Va. – Third-ranked Middlebury scored three goals in the first half on its way to a 4-1 victory over second-ranked The College of New Jersey on Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Semifinals on Washington and Lee’s Turf Field. The Panthers improve to 19-2 overall, tying a program record for wins in a season (2003, 2014). Middlebury, who advances to the NCAA Championship game for the sixth time in program history and the first time since 2011, plays top-ranked Bowdoin tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m. TCNJ finishes its season with a 20-2 record.
The Panthers struck first a little more than four minutes into the contest. On a penalty corner, Shannon Hutteman received the insert at the top of the arc, dribbled toward the left side and sent a pass to Pam Schulman, who rifled a shot into the cage inside the far post. Nearly six minutes later, Annie Leonard tallied her team-best 24th goal at 9:47 when she redirected a centering pass from Grace Jennings on the far post.
The score remained a 2-0 Middlebury lead until the 29th minute when Caroline Knapp stuffed in a rebound on a penalty corner for her second goal of the season.
TCNJ produced a scoring opportunity just 25 seconds later when Elizabeth Morrison collected a turnover in the Middlebury defensive zone. Panther goalie Emily Miller came charging out of her cage and kicked away the shot from six yards out on the left side. In the 31st minute, the Lions earned a penalty corner as an initial shot by Lexi Smith was blocked by a Panther defender. The ensuing rebound came to the stick of Jaclyn Douglas, who lifted a shot to the far post that Middlebury’s Jillian Green batted out of the air for a defensive save. Middlebury took a three-goal advantage into the halftime break with a 6-4 edge in shot and 3-1 advantage in penalty corners.
Out of the intermission, the Panthers kept up the pressure in the offensive end. At the 41:54 mark, Schulman was one-on-one with Lion goalie Kelly Schlupp, placing a shot just inside the near post from the left side for her 19th of the season.
The next 15 minutes were played in the midfield as neither team had any scoring opportunities. With a little more than six minutes left in the half, TCNJ got on the board when Douglas redirected a shot by Elizabeth Morrison into the cage on the far post past a diving Miller. The goal was the first in 218:43 surrendered by the Panther defense and the first in their three NCAA tournament games.
Middlebury held a narrow advantage in both shots (8-6) and penalty corners (3-2). Miller (18-2) finished with two saves in front of the cage for the Panthers, while Schlupp (20-2) was credited with three stops.
The win avenges a 2-0 setback to the Lions during the 2014 NCAA semifinal between the two schools.
Box Score: http://athletics.middlebury.edu/sports/fh/2015-16/boxscores/20151121_mlgz.xml