Panther field hockey off to NCAA final four

LEXINGTON, Va. — With this past weekend’s two convincing wins at home in an NCAA Division III Regional, the Middlebury College field hockey team earned a berth in this weekend’s final four at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va.,  where the Panthers will try to win the program’s first national championship since 1998.
Certainly, the Panthers, ranked No. 2, have been knocking on the door since Coach Katharine DeLorenzo took over in 2001. Her teams have compiled a 211-50 record and this season marked Middlebury’s 11th straight NCAA appearance, including appearances in the title game in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2011.
This past weekend’s two victories — 5-1 over Ursinus in Sunday’s regional final and 7-0 over the University of New England the day before — pushed the Panthers’ record to 19-1, tying the program record for wins set in 2003.
The Panthers’ performance also was the most dominant in a regional this past weekend of any of their competitors in the final four. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, they will face No. 4 The College of New Jersey (20-1), which edged Catholic University of America, 1-0 in its regional final.
In the other Saturday NCAA semifinal, at 11 a.m. No. 3 Bowdoin (18-2) and No. 1 Salisbury (19-1) will meet in a rematch of the 2013 final, won by Bowdoin. To earn their final four berths, this past Sunday Bowdoin beat Skidmore in overtime, 2-1, and Salisbury needed a late goal to nip Wellesley, 1-0. The NCAA final will be played this Sunday at 1 p.m.
PANTHER SOPHOMORE OLIVIA Jurkowitz scored two goals in Middlebury’s 7-0 win over the University of New England in Saturday’s NCAA regional semifinal. Independent photo/Trent Campbell
DeLorenzo calls this year’s team the most balanced in her tenure. Nine players have scored at least five goals, topped by right middie Catherine Fowler (20 goals, 10 assists), forward Pam Schulman (11 goals, 7 assists) and Bridget Instrum (11 goals, 6 assists in just 12 games after missing time with an injury).
Defender Jillian Green (9 goals, 2 assists, mostly on Panther penalty corners) and midfielder Lauren Berestecky (8 goals, 1 assist) have also contributed goals, and Olivia Jurkowitz, who has recently joined the starting lineup, has recorded five goals and five assists, including two of each in this past weekend’s regional.
Meanwhile, center middie Alyssa DiMaio (2 goals, 11 assists) leads the team in assists, and left middie Anna Kenyon (4 goals, 10 helpers) is right behind.
Meanwhile, goalie Emily Knapp, central defender Shannon Hutteman, and Green on one side and North Bennington resident Lily Taub on the other have teamed up to allow just 13 goals in 20 games.
The Panthers have history with Bowdoin, of course, splitting two one-goal games with the Polar Bears this fall, with the Middlebury win coming in the NESCAC championship game on the Polar Bears’ campus.
Middlebury will also be looking to avenge a 3-1 setback to New Jersey in the 2011 final, a game in which both Fowler and DiMaio played. The Panthers also defeated both TCNJ and Salisbury on their way to the 2007 final. 

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