Sports

Women’s hockey to host NCAA game Wednesday

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s hockey team will host an NCAA Division III tournament game on Wednesday evening after claiming the NESCAC tournament title this past weekend. 

The 16-6-4 Panthers will host Western New England (17-7-3) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The winner will advance to a Saturday NCAA quarterfinal at Plattsburgh (22-4-1). 

According to the Middlebury College athletics website, admission to the Wednesday NCAA game will be free, as college officials have decided to purchase all tickets for this event.

Despite winning the league’s playoffs, Middlebury was not awarded a home quarterfinal. The competition committee bestowed that honor upon league’s regular season champion and NESCAC tournament host Amherst (21-3-2), which Hamilton upset in the NESCAC semifinal round. 

If the Panthers get past Western New England, a team they did not face this winter, and Plattsburgh, they could face Amherst in the NCAA semifinal round. 

Middlebury met Plattsburgh twice. They lost at home Plattsburgh on Nov. 26, 3-1, despite outshooting the Cardinals, 38-17, and Plattsburgh won at home on Jan. 23, 2-1, this time outshooting Middlebury, 30-21.

NESCAC TOURNAMENT

The Panthers earned their automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by defeating Hamilton, 4-0, in Sunday’s NESCAC final, and Colby, 3-0, in Saturday’s semifinal, in games played in Amherst, Mass. 

Against Hamilton (15-6-6), Cat Appleyard gave the Panthers the lead with 29 seconds left in the opening period. Jordan Hower sent the puck from the left boards to Appleyard in the left circle, and Appleyard skated into the slot and whipped the puck into the upper right corner.

Hamilton controlled much of the second period, but the Panthers cashed in on two opportunities. After an ill-advised Hamilton roughing penalty, Middlebury made it 2-0 at 14:05 during a power play. From the left circle Callia Ferraris one-timed an Avery McInerny feed high into the net.

The Panthers’ Kylie Quinlan made it 3-0 35 seconds later. Raia Schluter sent a pass from the left boards to Kylie Quinlan on the left pipe for a close-range one-timer. 

Schluter put the game out of Hamilton’s reach with a solo rush at 13:44 of the third period. Schluter brought the puck from the defensive zone down the left side, beat two defenders, and stuffed the puck home short-side. 

Panther goalie Sophia Will made 25 saves for her second straight shutout, and two Hamilton goalies combined for 13 stops. 

The Saturday game against Colby (17-8-1) was tighter throughout despite a 3-0 final. The Panthers scored twice in the final 22 seconds to create the final score, and Will made 26 saves to 25 for the Mules’ Grace Caligiuri. 

After both teams had plenty of earlier chances, the Panthers broke through with 11.9 seconds left in the second period on defender Julia Johnson’s power play goal. Cece Ziegler slid the puck from the top of the right circle to the left to Johnson, whose shot went in off the crossbar.  

Avery McInerny and Quinlan sealed the win with empty-netters in the final 22 seconds. 

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