Panther field hockey claims four victories, moves up in rankings

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College field hockey team won four recent games to improve to 7-1, 4-1 NESCAC, and move up to sixth in the NCAA Division III coaches’ poll.
On Tuesday, Middlebury scored four goals in a 13:55 span in the second half on its way to a 4-0 win over visiting No. 12 Skidmore (8-2). The Thoroughbreds saw their winning streak stopped at seven.  
Middlebury earned an 11-3 lead in shots during the scoreless first half, with their best chance coming when Pam Schulman shot just wide left in the fourth minute.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead at 51:09 when Bridget Instrum scored with a reverse stick flip shot after a feed from the outside by Lauren Berestecky. Skidmore nearly tied the game minutes later, but Panther keeper Emily Knapp (five saves) came out to stuff Dani DeGregory’s bid.
Catherine Fowler gave Middlebury a 2-0 lead with her team-leading 10th goal of the season at 54:13 on a shot from the outside that deflected into the cage off a defender.
The Panthers added two more goals, both the first of their careers for a pair of Panther defenders. Meredith Rowe found the back by tipping in a pass from the outside by Alex Kuzma. Deidre Miller scored at 65:04, sweeping in a shot after a pass from Fowler was tipped by Hannah Deoul.
Middlebury held a 21-10 shots advantage and 8-2 in penalty corners. Goalie Haley McDougall made seven stops for the Thoroughbreds.
On Sunday, Middlebury held a 20-1 penalty corners advantage in a 2-1 win over visiting Williams (2-5, 1-4 NESCAC) in a NESCAC contest. The Panthers ended another scoreless first half with edges of 9-2 in shots and 12-0 in penalty corners.
Middlebury finally broke through at 53:47 with a goal on its 17th penalty corner. Fowler’s shot from the point was stopped by Eph goalie Nina Kumar, and Berestecky cashed in the rebound.
The Panthers struck again 2:15 later with another penalty corner goal. Alyssa DiMaio inserted the ball to Elinore O’Brien, who set it for Fowler. Fowler dribbled around an opponent before blasting a shot home.
Williams broke up the shutout with 1:30 remaining on a Cary Hairfield deflection. Knapp did not make a save, and Kumar finished with nine.
On Saturday, Middlebury took a 2-0 victory over visiting Colby (4-2, 2-2 NESCAC).
Middlebury took the lead 8:14 into the game, when Fowler converted after she and O’Brien worked a give-and-go.  
Colby had a great chance to score in the 26th minute, but Panther defender Deidre Miller made a defensive save on a shot from McKayla Blanch.
Middlebury gained breathing room with 3:44 left to play with Berestecky’s first career goal, assisted by Instrum. Knapp made three saves in her return after missing the last three contests with an injury. Colby keeper Sarah Evans made nine stops as Middlebury held a 15-4 shots advantage.
On Sept. 25, Middlebury took a 4-0 halftime lead in an 8-3 win at Castleton (5-4). Instrum led the attack with four goals, and an assist, Fowler had a goal and two assists, Katherine Theiss had a goal and an assist, and Schulman and Alex Kuzma had a goal apiece. Cassie Coash, a field player who volunteered to step into the goal in Knapp’s absence, made seven saves.
Former Middlebury Union High School players Alex Sears and Brandi Whittemore and Otter Valley’s Kristi Pinkham all saw action for the Spartans. Sears started on defense and Pinkham at midfield, and Whittemore came off the bench at midfield. Spartan goalie Jessica Galatioto made 16 saves.

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