Area athletes in NCAA D-III tournament

ADDISON COUNTY — Five graduates of Middlebury, Mount Abraham and Otter Valley union high schools are on teams that are competing this week in the NCAA Division III field hockey tournament.
Four of them play for North Atlantic Conference champion Castleton State College, and one for New England Women and Men’s Athletic Conference champion Wellesley College.
Playing for Castleton are senior defender Alex Sears, an MUHS graduate; junior midfielder Kristy Pinkham, an OV alum; and freshman Sarah Heffernan, a Mount Abe graduate. Sophomore Brandi Whittemore, an MUHS alum, played five games this fall, but is out with an injury. Playing for Wellesley is senior defender Kaitlyn Kirkaldy, an MUHS graduate.
Castleton (14-6) was set to play at Utica (16-4) on Wednesday after the deadline for this issue of the Independent; a win in that game would send the Spartans into a regional at Middlebury College this weekend vs. the host Panthers (15-2) on Saturday. The Spartans received top-20 votes in last week’s coaches’ poll.
Wellesley (17-3) earned a bye into the round of 16 and will play this weekend at a regional hosted by Salisbury (14-3. in Maryland. The team, which was ranked No. 13 in last week’s poll, on Saturday will play either Wilkes (8-11) or Ursinus (14-5). Both regional finals are on Sunday, and the NCAA final four will be held the weekend after in Virginia Beach, Va.
Sears played 17 games on defense for the Spartans, who defeated St. Joseph’s of Maine, 3-1, in the NAC final. Pinkham was third on the team in points with 14 goals and eight assists. Heffernan saw action in eight games and scored seven goals.
Kirkaldy, an all-NEWMAC academic pick, is a co-captain and four-year starter for Wellesley, which defeated Mount Holyoke in overtime, 1-0, to earn its NCAA berth. 

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