Panther field hockey gets NCAA bid

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College field hockey team will make its 13th consecutive and 16th overall appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament this weekend, but the 16-2 Panthers will not host a regional after falling at undefeated Bowdoin, 2-1, in Sunday’s NESCAC final.
The Panthers will travel to William Smith for a regional this weekend. The Panthers will meet the winner of a Wednesday game between Cabrini (12-8) and Franklin & Marshall (16-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m. William Smith (17-2) on Saturday at 11 a.m. will face the winner of a Wednesday contest between Bridgewater (Va.) (12-8) and Catholic University (13-6).
Saturday’s winners will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the victor headed to the tournament’s final four in Lexington, Va., on Nov. 21 and 22.
On this past Sunday, the Panthers saw their hopes of a fourth straight NESCAC championship end with the 2-1 loss at Bowdoin. The Panthers had beaten the Polar Bears (18-0) in each of the last three NESCAC title games.  
Bowdoin goalie Clara Belitz and Middlebury’s Emily Miller each made a pair of saves to keep the game scoreless before the Polar Bears struck at 12:02. Kimmy Ganong fired a shot at Miller, who made the initial save, but Rachel Kennedy put away the rebound.
Molly Freeman responded with the equalizer 19:11 into play. Several players battled for the ball to the left of the stroke line, and Freeman finally popped a shot into the air that deflected off Belitz’s blocker and into the cage.
Miller saved another Kennedy attempt with nine minutes remaining to keep the game tied at 1-1, and the Middlebury defense came up with a big block on Kelsey Mullaney late in the opening half.
Emily McColgan scored the game-winner for Bowdoin 19 minutes into the second half on a corner. The Panthers’ defense disrupted the corner, but the play left a loose ball skidding towards the left side of the circle. McColgan collected it and flicked a shot home.
Bowdoin nearly added a third goal a couple minutes later, but Panther defender Caroline Knapp stopped a shot on the right post.
The Middlebury attack pressured Bowdoin in the late going, but a shot by Audrey Quirk was denied.
The Panthers pulled their goalie with 1:36 remaining in the game in favor of an extra attacker, but the Polar Bears held on for the win.
Bowdoin outshot Middlebury, 11-5, while both teams earned three corners and each keeper made four saves.
On Saturday, the Panthers defeated Tufts, 4-1, at Bowdoin in a semifinal. The Panthers got first-half goals from Pam Schulman and Freeman, both assisted by Bridget Instrum, and two second-half scores from Annie Leonard, one set up by Grace Jennings.
Jillian Green made two defensive saves for the Panthers, and Shannon Hutteman recorded one for the Panthers, and Miller stopped two shots, and Jumbo goalie Emily Polinksi stopped five shots. Hanaa Malik scored a late goal for Tufts. 

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