Women’s soccer to host NCAA tournament regional
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury women’s soccer team saw its hopes of a third NESCAC championship fall just short this past weekend, but the 12-3-2 Panthers earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament and will host a four-team regional playoff this weekend.
The Panthers will face North Atlantic Conference winner Husson (15-5) at 11 a.m. on Saturday, while Wheaton (17-3-2) and Richard Stockton (14-6-2) will square off in the other regional semifinal at 1:30 p.m. The winners will meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday, and the victor will advance to sectional play the following weekend at a site to be announced.
In this past Sunday’s NESCAC final, the Panthers dropped a 3-2 contest at undefeated Williams, which, at 17-0, is the No. 2 team in the nation. It was the Panthers’ second one-goal loss to the Ephs in nine days. On Oct. 30, Eph Sarah Walmsley tallied in the 87th minute to win a game that the Panthers dominated.
In the NESCAC final, the Ephs controlled much of the first third and last third of the game. The Panthers took the momentum in the middle of the game, when they scored two goals to take the lead.
Bret Eisenhart put Williams up in the 25th minute, finishing a two-on-one break with teammate Brianna Wolfson.
Middlebury responded nine minutes later. Panther Rachel Madding corralled a corner kick and headed the ball to net. Teammate Anne Ford then headed the ball home. The Panthers took the lead at 55:09, when Annie Rowell scored her team-leading 11th goal, a low shot to the back left corner.
At 71:24, Walmsley scored off a fast-break sequence to even the game, with a feed from Nicole Stenquist. The home team tallied again eight minutes later off another sequence between Eisenhart and Wolfson, with Eisenhart tracking down a Wolfson cross that sailed long and sending it back across inside the far post.
Statistically, Middlebury and Williams were on par, taking 11 and 12 shots, respectively. Lauren Sinnenberg recorded five saves in the win, while Lauryn Torch tallied three saves for Middlebury.
Middlebury advanced to the championship game with a 1-0 victory over Amherst (12-3-1) at Williams on Saturday. Jenny Galgano headed in a corner kick from teammate Margaret Owen early in second half for the game’s only goal. The tally, from eight yards out at the 49:36 mark, was the first of the season for the Middlebury defender.
Torch finished with seven saves, while Jeff keeper Allie Horwitz made four.