Panthers advance in tourney
MIDDLEBURY — On Monday, the Middlebury College field hockey team received an at-large NCAA Division III tournament bid the Panthers were not sure would come after their first-round loss in the NESCAC tournament on Nov. 1.
On Wednesday, the host Panthers made the most of it with a 5-1 win over UMass-Dartmouth (15-7) in which junior Chase Delano and freshman Lauren Greer each scored twice in the first half to give Middlebury a 4-0 lead.
The Panthers improved to 12-4 after starting the season at 1-2. Greer said the Panthers wanted to erase the memory of their 2-1 upset loss to Williams in a NESCAC quarterfinal.
“The whole team was fired up to come out here and get things back to where we knew we were before,” Greer said. “It was a completely team-played game.”
The Panthers this weekend at Ursinus College will have a chance to avenge an early 2-0 loss at NESCAC regular season champ Trinity. Ursinus will host an NCAA sectional, and Middlebury meets Trinity on Saturday after Ursinus (17-2) faces either Lynchburg (17-4) or Juniata (17-3) in the morning. The winners will vie on Sunday for a berth in the NCAA final four in South Hadley, Mass., on Nov. 21 and 22.
Delano said the Panthers, who reached the 2008 final four, were excited to get the chance to play at all on Wednesday, and also relish another shot at Trinity.
“We have some revenge to take on Trinity, so we’re really excited to play them,” Delano said. “It’s going to be hard, but it will be a good opportunity for us.”
Panther coach Katharine DeLorenzo noted that all-NESCAC first team middie Emily Blair missed the first Trinity game, and that her young Panthers — just three seniors start — have come a long way since then.
“I think the team is playing as well as it’s ever played this year, and they’re just hungry for more,” she said.
They started hungry on Wednesday and controlled play early as senior Mullery Doar and Sally Ryan ruled at midfield; senior Dana Heritage, Maddie Kahn and Lucy Jackson locked down the back; and Greer, Delano, senior Heather McCormack and Charlotte Gardiner buzzed the Corsair cage.
With 6:42 gone, Greer put the Panthers on top. McCormack fed Greer to the left of the UMD cage, and she eluded a defender and found the far corner.
UMD countered with its only shot on goal of the half, but Panther goalie Madeline Brooks made a pad stop for her only save of the game. Soon afterward, only a stick save by UMD’s Maille Lynch-Gilbert denied Doar.
Greer struck again at 16:52, with a nice set-up from Ryan, who carried down the right side and centered to Greer for a tip-in. Thirty-two seconds later, Delano carried right-to-left across the cage and lifted a reverse-stick shot over sprawling UMD goalie Seana Golden (seven saves). At 13:27, the Panther pressure paid off again. Doar hit into a circle, and the ball bounced off a defender’s stick to Delano, who one-timed a 20-footer inside the left post to make it 4-0.
Doar added the final Panther score 1:40 into the second half, carrying a restart inside the circle and ripping a long shot home. Stephanie Kinchla put the Corsairs on the board at 43:08 on a fast-break feed from Kylie Treat.
DeLorenzo said she was happy with the Panthers’ all-around performance.
“I’m just very proud of how well put-together the team was all over the field,” she said. “They were very selfless, and looked good defensively and offensively.”