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Panthers beat Bowdoin, 4-2, in semi-finals

MIDDLEBURY — In Saturday’s NESCAC semifinal, the Middlebury College women’s hockey team outshot visiting Bowdoin over the first two periods, 21-10, and took 2-0 lead on the way to a 4-2 victory. Middlebury twice led by three goals in the third, but the fifth-seeded Polar Bears each time struck back quickly and carried play in the late going.
Middlebury took a 1-0 lead on a power play at 16:33 of the first on a Hannah Bielawski goal. Bielawski, stationed at the right point, took a Carly Watson feed from the center point and slapped a shot high into the far corner.
See related story: Panthers falter in final vs. Trinity
The Panthers made it 2-0 at 4:15 of the second. Janka Hlinka fed Jessica Young in the left corner, and Young circled behind the net to the right side before finding Emily Fluke cutting in from the left for the finish inside the left post.
Elizabeth Wulf made it 3-0 at 5:54 of the third period. Her goal was set up by a great forechecking play by Maddie Winslow, who knocked the puck loose in the left-wing circle. Wulf picked up the puck in the circle, skated in and lifted it home from close range.
Just 27 seconds later, Bowdoin made it 3-1 when Colleen Finnerty netted a rebound of a Schuyler Nardelli shot.
At 9:01, Fluke scored her second goal of the afternoon on a power play to provide insurance. Watson shot from the right point, and when the rebound bounced to the left the cutting Fluke banged it past Bowdoin goalie Lan Crofton (25 saves).
A little less than a minute later, Bowdoin’s Miranda Bell converted a cross-crease pass in transition from Chelsea MacNeil to make it 4-2.
Down the stretch, Panther goalie Madeline Marsh (19 saves) made big stops on Bowdoin’s Ariana Bourque (a screened shot from the left point) and Maddie Baird (an initial bid from the right side, and then on Baird on the rebound). Anna Van Kula and Kate Moreau also made key defensive plays in the final minutes, while Panther Julia Wardwell played a strong game in the back throughout the game.
Overall, Coach Bill Mandigo was pleased with his team’s effort, except while allowing the two quick goals after the Panther scores in the third.
“There were moments we played really well and skated hard and battled,” he said. “When you play good teams, you’re not going to have 60 minutes when you just dominate.”
Mandigo also noted that Marsh helped to seal the deal.
“Maddie Marsh had to make some big saves in the third period,” he said.

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