Women’s field hockey gets NCAA bid after league loss

MEDFORD, Mass. — Top-seed Tufts (16-2) defeated the visiting Middlebury College field hockey team, 3-1, in Sunday’s NESCAC field hockey final, but the 14-4 Panthers on Monday learned they will have a chance to defend their 2015 NCAA Division III title when they received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Panthers, who were ranked No. 4 before defeating Hamilton on Saturday in a NESCAC semifinal and then losing to Tufts, will be heading to an NCAA Regional this weekend hosted by top-ranked Messiah College (17-1) in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
On Saturday, the Panthers will face the winner of a Wednesday game between 15th-ranked University of Rochester (17-4) and Shenandoah (13-8), while Messiah (18-1) will meet either Keene State (20-3) or SUNY Geneseo (11-9). Saturday’s winners will meet on Sunday with a trip to the final four on the line. William Smith will host the final four on Nov. 19 and 20 in Geneva, N.Y. Middlebury will make its 14th consecutive and 17th overall appearance in the NCAA tournament. 
On this past Sunday, Tufts defeated the Panthers for the second time this fall.
Tufts capitalized on a penalty corner to taking the lead 1:28 into the game. Nicole Arata fed Annie Artz out front, and Artz lifted a high shot over Middlebury goalie Emily Miller.
The hosts took advantage of another corner nine minutes later. Arata shot from just inside the arc and Mary Travers deflected the ball home.
The Panthers had a chance at 13:31, when Lauren Schweppe shot from the right side with Kelly Coyle providing a screen, but Jumbo keeper Emily Polinski made the save.
Middlebury scored on its fist shot of the second half. Grace Jennings found the far corner after taking a pass from Molly Freeman at 23:41. 
Miller denied Arata from close range about a minute later, but Tufts added an insurance goal with 5:34 remaining when Artz knocked the ball out of midair on a feed from Travers.
Miller finished with four saves, while Polinski made two. Tufts held edges of 13-4 edge in shots and 7-1 in penalty corners.
On Saturday, the Panthers defeated Hamilton, 5-2, avenging a 4-2 regular-season loss to the 12-5 Continentals.
The Panthers took the lead 11:51 into the game on a penalty corner. Annie Leonard gained possession, cut to her right and fired a shot through the pads of Hamilton goalie Julia Booth. Jennings made it 2-0 later in the half, cutting in from the right side and finishing into the near corner.
The Continentals made it 2-1 3:37 after the break, when Margaret Revera assisted Michaela Giuttari.
Minutes later, Miller dented Giuttari from close range. The Panthers transitioned quickly and earned a penalty corner, and converted. Audrey Quirk inserted the ball and scored after taking a return pass from Schweppe at 26:54.
Later in the half the Panthers struck for two goals in 51 seconds. Leonard scored her team-high 20th goal on a pass from Freeman, and Quirk converted a feed from Emma Johns. Revera added a late goal for Hamilton.
Miller earned the win with three saves, while Julia Booth stopped 11 shots. Middlebury finished with advantages in shots (28-13) and penalty corners (15-7).

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