Panther field hockey to host NCAA regional
MIDDLEBURY — After winning its third consecutive NESCAC playoff title this past weekend, the Middlebury College field hockey team will host an NCAA Division III Regional this coming weekend.
The No. 3 Panthers (17-1) will open NCAA play at 11 a.m. on Saturday, when they will meet the winner of a game late Wednesday between Commonwealth Coast Conference champion University of New England (16-6) and Great Northern Athletic Conference winner Simmons (13-5).
Saturday’s other game, at 2 p.m. pits No. 6 Ursinus (16-3, the Centennial Conference champ) vs. either Regis (6-13) or No. 5 Franklin & Marshall (17-2). Poll rankings date to Nov. 4 and do not reflect league tournament results, and polls will not be updated again until after the NCAA tournament. Ursinus defeated Franklin & Marshall in their league final, and Middlebury defeated No. 2 Bowdoin in the NESCAC title game.
The Panthers will be making their 12th consecutive and 15th overall appearance in the NCAA tournament, but have not won since the program’s only title, in 1997. They have three times appeared in championship games since then.
On Sunday, a goal by Catherine Fowler with just 26 seconds left in regulation gave Middlebury a 2-1 win over host Bowdoin (16-2).
Bowdoin got on the board first at 9:10 of the first half, when Rachel Kennedy redirected home a cross from Meredith Tibbals from the right side.
Middlebury scored off its first penalty corner of the game. After Bowdoin midfielder Colleen Finnerty stopped Fowler’s initial shot on the goal line, Hollis Perticone pounced on the rebound to even the score 3:36 before halftime.
The teams traded good chances to open the second half, as Middlebury successfully defended a Bowdoin corner and broke out in transition. But Bowdoin goaltender Hannah Gartner (four saves) kicked away Bridget Instrum’s hard shot.
After Gartner made another diving stop on Fowler, Middlebury goalie Emily Knapp made a charging save on a run by Kennedy, her only stop of the game.
Middlebury earned a penalty corner with less than a minute to play. Following the insertion by Alyssa DiMaio, Fowler rifled a low, hard shot home through traffic and into the goal.
Middlebury finished with advantages of 7-5 in shots 5-2 in penalty corners.
On Saturday, Middlebury knocked off No. 9 Trinity, 3-1. Middlebury got on the board five minutes into the contest when Fowler scored on a penalty corner.
The Panthers doubled their advantage 13 minutes later. Fowler played the ball into the circle to Olivia Jurkowitz, who redirected a shot towards the right post. Jillian Green poked home the loose ball at 18:25.
Trinity leading scorer Kelcie Finn rifled a shot from the top of the circle at 24:10, making it 2-1 at the break.
The Panthers got a second-half insurance goal from Fowler, who wristed home a shot from the left side at 40:17.
Knapp made three saves for Middlebury, while two Trinity goalies combined for five stops.
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