On the Ball: Panthers dancing
Five (!) Middlebury College teams are moving along in the NCAA Division III title hunt this week. Four of them — the volleyball, men’s and women’s cross-country, and men’s soccer teams — earned automatic berths in national tournaments by prevailing in NESCAC play, the runners the weekend before last and the volleyballers and soccer players on Sunday.
The Independent will have details on their tournament schedules in our print edition on Thursday. None of those teams will see action before our Thursday paper hits the newsstands. I will mention, however, that one of the four teams will play at home this weekend: The men’s soccer team will host a regional this weekend. World football fans, circle your calendars, this is what the schedule looks like:
2010 NCAA Men’s Soccer Regional
Saturday, November 13th – Middlebury College
Daniel Webster (N.H.) (12-5-1) vs. Middlebury (13-3-1) – 11 a.m.
William Paterson (N.J.) (13-3-3) vs. Thomas (Me.) (11-5-2) – 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 14th – Middlebury College
Regional Final – 1 p.m.
In the meantime, the fifth team is the field hockey team, which was stunned in the first round of the NESCAC tournament a week ago. But at 11-4 probably made it in because of the Panthers’ strength of schedule (two of other three losses were to teams hosting regionals, Bowdoin and Skidmore, and the other was to Tufts, which lost only to Bowdoin) and late-season surge (they won nine straight after a 2-3 start).
The Panthers will make their eighth consecutive and 11th overall appearance in the tournament on Wednesday, when they host Cabrini (12-7) in a first-round game at 2 p.m. The winner of the game will advance to an NCAA Regional at Ursinus, and will face Tufts (15-2) on Saturday.
Sadly, that game will be played after our set-in-stone deadline for sports in the Thursday print edition. This sports reporter, however, plans to attend and cover the game for an on-line story that should appear by late afternoon. Weather.com is projecting 47 degrees and sun for those tempted to watch some good field hockey.
By the way, we will have more flexibility for sports beginning next year. It’s a long story I’m not sure I can tell yet, but we should able to cover some of those compelling match-ups we’ve had to miss this past spring and fall because they happened on Wednesdays, such as Panther men’s lacrosse NCAA and Middlebury-Mount Abraham field hockey games, for example.
By the way, this just in today: The No. 1 Tiger football team will play its final vs. No. 3 Rice at Castleton at 5 p.m. on Saturday. See you there, and, barring upset, at the Panther men’s soccer game on Sunday.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.