On the Ball: Panther Field Hockey Catches a Cabrini
Six points is an off day for, say, the Fair Haven football team against Middlebury Union High School in a Division II semifinal.
Six goals in a field hockey game? Well, that’s another story.
But that’s what the Middlebury College field hockey team racked up on Wednesday afternoon against overmatched Colonial States Athletic Conference champion Cabrini, which drove a long way from near Philadelphia to absorb a 6-0 loss in a first-round NCAA Division III tournament game.
The 12-4 Panthers bounced back big from their upset loss in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, piling up advantages of 28-2 in shots at goal and 16-2 in penalty corners against the 12-8 Cavaliers.
Middlebury advanced to a weekend regional to be hosted by Ursinus (18-1). The Panthers will take on NESCAC foe Tufts (15-2), which defeated the Panthers, 3-0, at home in the opener for both teams. Ursinus will meet Juniata (18-4) in the other Saturday game, and the winners will meet on Sunday.
Middlebury coach Katharine DeLorenzo saw the game vs. Cabrini as a boost for the Panthers after they didn’t play their best in losing to Trinity in a NESCAC quarterfinal, an Oct. 30 result that snapped a nine-game winning streak.
“We scored a lot of different types of goals, and a lot of different people scored,” DeLorenzo said.
The Panthers’ skills looked crisper than against the Bantams, even considering the lesser opposition, and DeLorenzo agreed they did a much better job at attacking from the wings after too often forcing the ball up the middle vs. Trinity.
“We did it well enough that it could have been the same against Trinity and still worked,” DeLorenzo said. “I thought we distributed the ball well and that’s why we controlled the tempo and controlled the possession.”
The Panthers took the lead 3:48 in. After outstanding Cabrini goalie Caitlin Donahue stopped Sally Ryan’s bid on the first Panther corner, Middlebury’s Liz Garry broke up the clear and sent the ball back into the circle to leading scorer Lauren Greer. Greer picked the lower left corner from about 15 feet.
At 24:48, Greer made it 2-0 on a perfectly executed corner. The injection went to the top of the circle and then to the end line to right wing Charlotte Gardiner, who relayed to Greer in stride cutting to goal. Greer picked the same corner.
Donahue then made a series of fine stops on left wing Hannah Clarke and Greer, and in that stretch Panther goalie Becca Shaw came out to clear away a ball and was credited with her only save. One other drive from outside the circle by Cabrini’s Colleen Anastasi was tipped wide in the 13th minute.
The Panthers finally added to their lead at 3:23, when middie Heather Karpas collected a ball on the left side of the circle, spun, and drove the ball just inside the near post.
Even when DeLorenzo subbed freely in the second half, the Cavaliers could have used LeBron — they failed to put a shot on either Shaw or substitute Madeleine Brooks after the break. Credit should go to the Panther defense of Madeleine Kahn, Garry and Margaret Souther, who played particularly well advancing the ball into the attack.
The Panthers added goals by Ryan, who tipped in a Garry drive; Gardiner, who dove to deflect in an alert goalmouth pass from Greer; and Hannah Deoul, who poked home a ball from close range in a scramble, with Katie Thiess assisting.
DeLorenzo put the game in perspective, including noting that Cabrini’s Donahue led the nation in save percentage and total saves in 2009.
“In a game like this you know you’re going to have lots of chances, so it sort of takes the pressure off and you play a little more relaxed. You know the pressure will be on and you’ll have to make the most of fewer chances against a better team,” she said. “But the Tufts team doesn’t have a better goalie than we just played against.”
Asked if the game against a weaker opponent would hurt the Panthers against tougher competition, or give them a needed boost of confidence, DeLorenzo chose the latter.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Absolutely.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.