Panther field hockey defeats No. 1 Bowdoin, wins NCAA title

LEXINGTON, Va. — The Middlebury College field hockey team edged previously undefeated and top-ranked Bowdoin 1-0, in a game played at Washington and Lee on Sunday to win its second NCAA Division III championship and its first since 1998.
The 20-2 Panthers, who began the tournament ranked No. 3, set a school record for wins and in the tournament defeated No. 5 Franklin & Marshall, No. 6 William Smith and, in a Saturday semifinal, No. 2 The College of New Jersey, the defending champion, 4-1.
The Panthers had reached the NCAA final under Coach Katharine DeLorenzo in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2011 before winning the title on Sunday. After the game, the team gathered around their coach and the trophy and chanted “DeLo” in her honor
PANTHER FORWARD BRIDGET Instrum was named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The senior did not score in the tournament, but did tally 8 goals and 10 assists this season.
Photo credit: Keith Lucas – Sideline Media Productions
Bowdoin carried much of the play for the first 15 minutes, with Kimmy Ganong and Rachel Kennedy shooting wide. On the Polar Bears’ first penalty corner of the game, Kelsey Mullaney had her first shot blocked and second attempt saved by Panther goalie Emily Miller .
After the corner, Middlebury raced the length of the field. Pam Schulman carried up the right side and crossed, and the ball went off a Bowdoin defender’s stick. Panther freshman Grace Jennings controlled near the stroke line and ripped a shot to the far post past Bowdoin goalie Clara Belitz at 25:45. Middlebury led at halftime despite Bowdoin’s 8-3 lead in shots.
The Panthers pressured for much of the first 20 minutes of the second half, including a series of penalty corners, but couldn’t find the back of the cage. On Middlebury’s sixth penalty corner, in the 50th minute, Annie Leonard’s reverse sweep hit a Bowdoin stick and popped up into the air, and Belitz (three saves) knocked it away with her blocker.
Bowdoin then came on strong, drawing a pair of penalty corners in the 59th and 60th minutes, but Miller saved shots by both Kennedy and Ganong. In the 62nd minute, Liz Znamierowski’s bid after a transition rebound hit the right post before the Panther defense — Shannon Hutteman, Lauren Berestecky and Jillian Green excelled in the back — cleared it away.
Middlebury regained possession in the final three minutes, with good work from Bridget Instrum and Anna Kenyon at midfield, and the Panthers soon celebrated a victory over the team that had defeated them twice this season by 2-1 scores, both at Bowdoin.
Bowdoin finished with a 17-14 edge in shots, while Middlebury was awarded more penalty corners, 9-5. Miller made six saves to earn her eighth shutout of the season. The Panthers allowed one goal in four NCAA games.
That came on Saturday vs. The College of New Jersey on the same field, but it was too little, too late for TCNJ (20-2) — it came with six minutes left and Middlebury leading, 4-0.
IN THE FIRST half, Middlebury freshman Grace Jennings ripped a shot to the far post past a diving Bowdoin goalie to score the game winner in the NCAA Final on Sunday afternoon in Lexington, Va.
Photo credit: Keith Lucas – Sideline Media Productions
The Panthers scored twice in the first 10 minutes and led at the break, 3-0. Schulman converted from Hutteman on a penalty corner about four minutes in, and Leonard tipped in a Jennings cross from the left side six minutes later for her team-high 24th goal. In the 29th minute, Caroline Knapp made it 3-0 by rapping home a rebound off the left post.
 Schulman made it 4-0 after going in alone on Lion goalie Kelly Schlupp (three saves) seven minutes into the second half for her 19th of the season. TCNJ’s Jaclyn Davis lifted home a rebound on a late penalty corner to create the final score.  
Middlebury held advantages in shots (8-6) and penalty corners (3-2), and Miller made two saves.
Berestecky, Kenyon and Schulman were each named to the all-tournament team, while Bridget Instrum was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

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