MIDDLEBURY — The fourth-seeded Middlebury College field hockey team blanked visiting No. 5 Colby in a NESCAC tournament quarterfinal on Saturday, 3-0, and will head to Amherst this weekend for the league’s final four.
The 13-2 Panthers (8-2 NESCAC) will take on the host Jeffs (13-2, 9-1 NESCAC) at 11 a.m., while No. 2 Tufts (15-1, 9-1 NESCAC) will meet No. 3 Bowdoin (13-2, 8-2 NESCAC) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The winners will meet at noon on Sunday with the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament at stake. All four teams could earn tournament berths, however: In last week’s coaches’ poll, Bowdoin was ranked No. 2, Tufts No. 3, Middlebury No. 5 and Amherst No. 7. The NCAA will announce tournament pairings on Monday.
This season, Middlebury played all three of the other final four NESCAC teams on the road, defeating Amherst, 4-3 in overtime, and dropping 4-2 decisions to both Bowdoin and Tufts.
On this past Saturday vs. Colby, Middlebury took a 1-0 lead 16:03 into the game when Lauren Berestecky netted a rebound after a diving save from Colby keeper Sarah Evans.
Bridget Instrum made it 2-0 2:03 into the second half with her eighth goal of the season. After taking a pass from Jillian Green, Instrum scored with a reverse sweep shot.
Colby pressured in the 48th minute, but Panther goalie Emily Knapp (five saves) stopped shots by Erin Maguire and Megan Fortier.
Middlebury made it 3-0 at 51:23, when Katherine Theiss netted her 11th of the season on a crossing pass from Chrissy Ritter.
Middlebury finished the game with a 16-5 advantage in shots. Evans finished with four stops in 56:05, while Michelle Burt made three saves the rest of the way.