November 17, 2008

The Middlebury College field hockey team saw its season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to Bowdoin in an NCAA Regional Final contest in Maine. The Panthers end their season with a solid 14-4 record, while defending NCAA Champion Bowdoin advances to the final four.

In their first game of the weekend, Middlebury sophomore Chase Delano (Greenwich, Conn.) scored three goals to lead the Panther field hockey team to a 5-2 victory over Lebanon Valley. Delano's three goals improve her season total to 26, setting a new Middlebury single-season record. Middlebury was the first to score Saturday, as junior Mullery Doar (Winnetka, Ill.) charged down the right wing and played a perfect crossing ball to Delano to give the Panthers the lead just 6:50 into the game. A flurry of action later in the period saw the teams exchange great opportunities, but defensive saves by Middlebury rookie Emily Blair (W. Vancouver, B.C.) and Lebanon Valley's Krista Freitag kept it a one-goal contest.

Late in the half, Lebanon Valley's Danielle Blase finished off a strong run to the goal by tucking the ball inside the left post to deadlock the game just 11 seconds before halftime.

Middlebury responded immediately after the break, however, exploding for three goals in the first 11 minutes of the frame. Sophomore Allison Grant (Louisville, Ky.) finished off a scrum in front of the net just 1:50 into the period and, less than four minutes later, centered a perfectly-placed pass to senior Sophie Thompson (Greenwich, Conn.), who buried it into the cage to give Middlebury a 3-1 lead. Delano finished off a pass from junior Dana Heritage (Cheshire, Conn.) at 45:13 to give the Panthers a 4-1 advantage.

Lebanon Valley cut into Middlebury's lead with a goal from Shelly Lobach at 47:46, and made a bid to cut it to a one-goal game just seconds later. But a shot from the wing by Alex Wolfe was stopped on the doorstep by Middlebury rookie Liz Garry (Mamaroneck, N.Y.). The Panthers got an insurance goal from Delano with under three minutes to play to seal the win.

Middlebury out-shot Lebanon Valley 28-15, including a 19-7 advantage in the second half. Senior goalkeeper Caitlin Pentifallo (River Edge, N.J.) stopped five shots for the Panthers, while Caitlin Baro made 15 stops for the Dutchmen.

Lindsay McNamara gave Bowdoin the lead 15 minutes into Sunday's game, after an entry pass into the circle by Kate Gormley was intercepted by a Middlebury defender. McNamara took control of the loose ball and tucked the ball inside the right post to give the hosts a one-goal lead at 19:37.

Middlebury answered just moments later following a pair of penalty corner opportunities. Heritage ripped a shot from the left side that Delano redirected into the cage to deadlock the score with 16:33 remaining in the half. The Panthers had an outstanding chance to take the lead seconds later, when senior Lindsay McBride (Old Greenwich, Conn.) received a pass on the far post, but Bowdoin's Emileigh Mercer made a fantastic diving stop to keep the game deadlocked.

The flurry of action continued on the other side of the field as Bowdoin replied with a pair of penalty corner chances. Pentifallo made two great saves, including a blocker stop on a shot by Julia King that seemed destined for the top-right corner of the net.

Following another penalty corner, Bowdoin regained the lead as a King shot rebounded off of Pentifallo's leg pads to the waiting stick of Madeleine McQueeney, who banged home the loose ball to push the Polar Bears ahead with 6:32 left before the break. Bowdoin carried their lead into halftime, holding a 16-5 edge in shots and 11-4 lead in corners.

Neither team could garner a quality scoring chance until midway through the second period when a penalty corner for Bowdoin resulted in a scramble in front of the goal. Madeleine McQueeney slapped home the loose ball to give the Polar Bears a 3-1 lead with 15:22 to go.

Pentifallo made eight saves in all for the Panthers, while Mercer made five stops for the Polar Bears. It is the ninth straight victory for Bowdoin over Middlebury, dating back to 2005. The Polar Bears defeated the Panthers in the 2007 NCAA Championship game, 4-3.
. Field hockey final record: 14-4