Panther field hockey gets past Colby, to host final four

MIDDLEBURY — The top-seeded Middlebury College field hockey team took care of business in its NESCAC quarterfinal this past Saturday, defeating No. 8 Colby, 5-2.
The 15-1 Panthers will now host the league’s final four this Saturday and Sunday. At 11 p.m. on Saturday the Panthers will face No. 5 Trinity (13-4), and at 1:30 p.m. No. 2 Tufts (15-1) and No. 3 Williams (13-4) will square off. Middlebury previously defeated Tufts and Trinity, but lost to Williams, 4-2  on the road on Oct. 23.
Saturday’s winners will meet on Sunday at noon for the NESCAC playoff title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The defending NCAA champion Panthers would have a strong case for an at-large NCAA bid even with a setback. Pairings will be announced on Monday.
Against Colby (9-7) this past Sunday Grace Jennings gave the Panthers the lead with a breakaway goal 3:39 into the game. She converted after picking off a Mule pass at midfield.
Colby pulled even at 24:02 on an Emily Hogan goal from close range. Middlebury countered about eight minutes later, when Meg Fearey knocked in a centering pass from Erin Nicholas. With 4:46 before the half Panther Marissa Baker tipped in a pass from Jennings at the right post for a 3-1 lead. That score held into the intermission thanks to a nice save by Panther goalie Megan Collins on a hard, turnaround shot Colby’s Georgia Cassidy.
After Mule Merrill Read made it 3-2 just 3:20 into the second half the game went into a two-hour weather delay.
After the break, Middlebury netted a fourth goal when Nicholas flipped a loose ball into the cage. Jennings closed out the scoring at 18:15 by lifting a rebound high into the net.
Middlebury goalie Megan Collins made three saves, and the Mules’ Riley Whitmyer made eight saves. Middlebury held advantages of 19-7 in shots and 10-3 edge in penalty corners.

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