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College women’s soccer team claims NCAA Regional

HOBOKEN, N.J. — The Middlebury College women’s soccer team on Sunday night knocked off host No. 9 Stevens Institute of Technology in an NCAA Division III Regional, 2-0, to advance to an NCAA Sectional that the Panthers’ NESCAC rival Williams will host.
The Panthers — at 15-4 the team among the 16 remaining in the tournament with the most losses — will face No. 6 Messiah (19-2) in one Saturday semifinal in Williamstown, Mass., at 1:30 p.m., after the No. 3 Ephs (17-0-2) meet No. 12 Johns Hopkins (17-2-2) at 11 a.m. The winners will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Panthers did not play Messiah this fall, but they have one common foe: Messiah lost to Stevens, 2-1.
The Panthers received votes in the most recent coaches’ poll and are essentially ranked No. 29, but that was before they defeated Stevens on Sunday and MIT on Saturday in the tournament’s first round, 1-0. Middlebury is also the last team to defeat Williams, dealing the defending NCAA champions their only loss of 2015.
On Sunday, Middlebury got offense from a surprising source in winning an NCAA Regional for the seventh time: Freshman Virginia Charman scored her first two career goals, one in each half.
Stevens, which finished 19-2, had the first good looks on goal, including a cross by Rabba Nassif that Panther defender Alex Barber cleared away.
But the Panthers controlled most of the first-half play and outshot the Ducks, 7-5, in the first 45 minutes. In the 25th minute Stevens goalie Lindsey Mahnken denied Sabrina Glaser from 15 yards out, and three minutes later Glaser shot wide after a centering pass from Caitlin Magruder.
Middlebury’s Adrianna Gildner also had two nice opportunities to put her team on the board. The first was a hard shot in the 32nd minute that Mahnken denied, and minutes later she missed just left in a two-on-one break.
Middlebury broke through with 1:19 remaining in the half. Gildner broke in on the right side and centered to Charman, who one-touched a shot into the left side of the net.
Early in the second half, Gildner found Clare Robinson. Mahnken came out to meet Robinson, who tapped the ball over the goalie. Her looping shot headed toward the right corner before Duck defender Olivia Butera cleared the ball off the goal line.
But the play resulted in a corner kick, and Panthers cashed in. Gildner served the ball from the right, and it was cleared just outside the 18, where Sharman volleyed a blast straight into the upper right corner 2:53 into the half.
Stevens pressed for a few minutes after the goal. After a corner kick, Middlebury’s Amanda Hotvedt headed a scoring chance out of danger. A minute later, Stevens’ Julia Panko fired high.
But the Panthers regrouped, won most 50-50 challenges, regained an edge in possession and moved the ball well. Gildner threatened in the 60th and 61st minutes, with her first shot going wide and Mahnken denying her second chance. Middlebury nearly scored in the 72nd minute, but Glaser’s sliding shot on a feed from Gildner went just wide.
Gabby Mathelier and Rachel Chavin of Stevens had bids, but Panther keeper Ursula Alwang was positioned perfectly to deny both. At the other end, Mahnken stopped another Gildner blast.
Stevens had two great chances in the final minutes, although the Ducks for the most part struggled to launch dangerous shots against Panther backs Barber, Amanda Haik, Janie DeVito and Alissa Huntington. Duck Zisi Komar’s shot hit the crossbar, and Misha Brewster worked loose to put a head on a cross from Gabriella Saade, but the bid sailed just wide with 3:39 remaining.
Each team recorded 15 shots, while and Stevens held a 5-4 edge in corner kicks. Alwang made five saves, while Mahnken finished with six stops.
On Saturday, Amanda Dafonte scored in the 61st minute to provide the difference in Middlebury’s 1-0 victory over MIT (17-6-1) in first-round action at Stevens Institute. On the same day, Stevens thumped Colby-Sawyer, 8-0.
Dafonte’s goal came after sustained Panther pressure, which included a Robinson header set up by Gildner that hit the crossbar. Gildner also helped set up the game-winner, dribbling down the left sideline and sending a cross to Dafonte in the middle of the field. Dafonte took two touches to her left and lofted a left-footed shot over MIT goalkeeper Lauren Ullman.
Alwang made one save, while Ullman made three saves for the Engineers. Middlebury held a 12-6 advantage in shots.
Saturday’s victory was the 150th for Coach Peter Kim at Middlebury. In 13 seasons, he now boasts a record of 151-55-26 (.706) and is the program’s all-time leader in wins. 

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