No NCAA bid for women’s hockey team

MIDDLEBURY — For only the second time since 2002, the Middlebury College women’s hockey team is on the outside of the NCAA Division III tournament looking in.
Upsets in Western tournaments posed the biggest problem for the 17-4-4 Panthers’ hopes of getting an at-large bid on Monday for this year’s tournament — at least after they were upset in a March 1 NESCAC quarterfinal after earning that tournament’s top seed.
The top two Western seeds were Wisconsin-River Falls (21-4-3) and Wisconsin-Stevens Point (19-5-4), and both those teams were upset in their league finals. Instead, St. Thomas (19-5-3), No. 7 in one poll and No. 6 in another, and Lake Forest (17-5-3), No. 9 nationally, earned those league’s automatic bids.
Plattsburgh, Norwich and Williams earned the other automatic bids in the eight-team field.
That left four teams competing for three at-large berths: the two Wisconsin teams, ranked No. 1 and 2 out West and 4 and 5 nationally; Elmira (21-5-1), the defending champion, the only team to defeat No. 1 Plattsburgh this season, and ranked No. 3 in the East and nationally; and the Panthers, ranked No. 4 in the East and No. 6 and No. 7 nationally by the polls.
Although the Panthers played the toughest schedule in the nation (they lost to No. 2 Norwich once and No. 1 Plattsburgh twice, and defeated Elmira twice this season), ultimately they were the odd team out in that mix, according to the selection committee.

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