Sports

Panther women advance in hockey

MIDDLEBURY — The undefeated Middlebury College women’s hockey team this past weekend won its NESCAC quarterfinal and will host the league tournament this weekend. Meanwhile, the Panther skiers placed third in the East, and the men’s basketball and hockey teams lost in their NESCAC tournaments, and in somewhat of a surprise, the men’s hoop squad didn’t earn an NCAA playoff bid.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY

Visiting No. 8 seed Connecticut battled the 22-0 Panther women’s hockey team in Sunday’s NESCAC quarterfinal, but Cat Appleyard’s tiebreaking power-play goal early in the third period proved to be the difference in Middlebury’s 2-1 victory.

Middlebury took the lead with 4:27 gone in the opening period while skating with an extra player after a delayed penalty. Julia Johnson’s slap shot from the right circle trickled through traffic and past Camel goalie Abby Wieczorek

The Camels (9-15-2) knotted the score on a power play at 10:09 of the second period. Panther goalie Sophia Merageas made the initial save, but Camile Phelan tapped in the loose puck following a scramble just outside the crease.

Appleyard’s game-winner came with the Panthers a skater up 4:11 into the third period.  Shortly after Wieczorek denied doorstep bids by Appleyard and Eva Hendrickson, Appleyard picked up a Camel turnover and wristed the puck over Wieczorek’s right pad.

The Panthers controlled most of the period, but the Camels pressed late. With 5:20 Panther goalie Sophie Merageas flashed her right pad to deny a wrist shot from Rylie Griffith. Merageas also made a couple key saves after the Panthers were whistled for a penalty with just over a minute to go with the Camels skating six on four after pulling their goalie.

Merageas made 18 saves, while Wieczorek made 28 saves.

On Saturday, the Panthers will host No. 4 Hamilton (12-9) at 1 p.m., while second-seeded Colby (16-4-1) will face third-seeded Amherst (13-8-2) at 4:30 p.m. The championship game is set for Sunday at 2 p.m.

SKIING

The Middlebury ski team finished third at the EISA Championships hosted by the University of New Hampshire. UVM (981 points) won, while UNH (728) edged the Panthers (724 points) for second place.

Nordic action took place at the Jackson Cross Country Center, while the alpine events were contested at Cannon Mountain/Mittersill. Middlebury skiers who qualified will compete March 9-12 at the NCAA championships in Park City, Utah.

In Saturday’s Nordic men’s 10-kilometer classic, the Panthers had all three scorers in the top-15 for the second straight day to finish second in the event. Peter Wolter took second in 26:28.9, Willson Moore was eighth in 27:25.4, and Logan Moore was 13th (27:41.4).

Charlotte Ogden was eighth in the 5K classic to lead the Panther women with a time of 15:46. Avery Ellis took 13th place (15:59.2), and Quincy Massey-Bierman completed the scorers in 28th (16:20.5).

The men’s alpine team placed three skiers in the top 15 to finish second in the giant slalom. Justin Alkier took third with a two-run time of 2:10.16, Bradshaw Underhill was fourth (2:10.90), and Axel Bailey was 15th in 2:13.58.

In the women’s giant slalom, only Alexandra Cossette, who was eighth in 2:17.08, cracked the top 15.

In Friday action, the Panther Nordic men also took second in the 20K freestyle. Wolter finished fourth in 52:14.3, and Sam Hodges was 12th in 54:51.5.

In the women’s 15K freestyle, Ellis led the way in 20th in 45:48.7

On the slopes on Friday, the Panther women excelled in the slalom, with Lucia Bailey leading the group with a third-place effort (1:41.92). Mika-Anne Reha was sixth (1:42.37), and Sofia Yubero was 11th in 1:43.77.

In the men’s slalom, Alkier placed 13th in 1:31.32; Underhill tied for 14th in 1:31.69.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

No. 4 seeded Williams, ranked No. 21 in NCAA D-III, defeated the No. 3 seed Middlebury men’s basketball team, 78-61, in a NESCAC semifinal played at Wesleyan on Saturday. The Ephs improved to 17-3 and lost to top-seeded host Wesleyan in overtime for the league playoff title on Sunday.

Despite their 18-6 record, the Panthers were not awarded an NCAA bid on Monday. At least two teams with 18-7 records, Rochester and Babson, were given bids. NESCAC teams have traditionally excelled in the D-III tournament, but only Wesleyan and Williams will participate.

In Saturday’s NESCAC semifinal, the Ephs broke open a tight game with a 16-2 run to close out the first half and take a 37-19 lead at the break.

The Panthers were more competitive in the second half and several times cut the Williams lead to 14 or 15 points, and once to 13 (69-56) with 3:22 to go. But the Ephs answered their runs every time with three-pointers and balanced scoring.

The Panthers shot 32.9% and made only one of 15 three-point attempts, while Williams shot 43.6% and made 13 of 27 from behind the arc.

Alex Sobel paced Middlebury with 19 points, and Sam Stevens scored 18. David Brennan contributed eight points and eight rebounds.

For the Ephs, Spencer Spivy scored 20 points, Cole Prowitt-Smith had 17 and grabbed eight boards, and Nate Karren chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds.

MEN’S HOCKEY

The No. 9 seed Middlebury College men’s hockey team saw a third-period rally come up short at Tufts on Friday and lost to the No. 8 Jumbos, 4-1, in a first-round playoff game.

The Panthers also saw the end of their four-game winning streak, all of which came on the road. Friday’s setback left them with a final 6-13-3 record. Tufts improved to 7-15-2 heading into a Sunday quarterfinal at No. 1 Colby.

Tufts took the lead with three minutes to go in the first when Andrew Gurlock scored from the blue line. The Jumbos added another goal seven minutes into the second period, a Harrison Bazianos wraparound. The Jumbos made it 3-0 at 2:17 of the third, when Gunlock’s slap shot from just inside the blue line made in through traffic.

Middlebury cut the deficit to 3-1 at 14:58, when Tucker Lamb converted a Jin Lee feed to the far post. The Panthers continued to press, but Gurlock added an empty-netter.

Jake Horoho made 28 saves in goal for Middlebury, while Josh Sarlo stopped 32 shots for the Jumbos.

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