November 7, 2011

            The Middlebury College field hockey team has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers earned a first-round bye and will travel to Skidmore for an NCAA Field Hockey Regional this weekend. Middlebury will take on the winner of the Franklin & Marshall/Cortland game on Saturday, November 12th, while Skidmore takes on the winner of the Amherst/Gwynedd-Mercy contest. The winners meet in the regional final on Sunday with a trip to the final four on the line.

            Liz Clegg scored the game-winning goal with 1:48 remaining to give Bowdoin its seventh NESCAC Championship on Sunday at Ryan Field, 2-1, over Middlebury. The top-seeded and top-ranked Polar Bears improve to 17-0 this season and stretch the nation's longest winning streak to 24 consecutive matches.

            Middlebury owned most of the possession in the early-going, forcing Bowdoin's defense to come up with some big stops. Elena Crosley picked up a defensive save for the Polar Bears and goaltender Kayla Lessard came off her line to make a sliding stop on a shot by NESCAC leading-scorer, junior Lauren Greer (N. Hampton, N.H.) midway through the period. Bowdoin replied with some pressure downfield, but came away empty when a shot by Kassey Matoin rang off the post to keep the game scoreless heading into intermission.

            Both teams broke into the scoring column on their first shots of the second half. Bowdoin's came nine minutes into the period off a penalty corner as Clegg delivered the insert to Matoin, who placed it for Ella Curren. Curren blasted a low shot inside the left post to give the Polar Bears the lead with 25:25 to go. Middlebury answered seven minutes later when first-year player Catherine Fowler (Grosse Pt., Mich.) intercepted a Bowdoin clearing attempt, walked into the top of the circle and rifled a low shot past Lessard to even the score with 18:25 to go.

            The teams traded possession in midfield for the majority of the remainder of regulation until the Polar Bears garnered a pair of late corner attempts. With under two minutes to go, the ball was played into the Middlebury defensive circle. An initial shot attempt bounced off the leg pads of senior keeper Becca Shaw (S. Burlington, Vt.) and came to the waiting stick of Clegg, who swatted home the loose ball with 1:48 remaining to give Bowdoin its sixth NESCAC crown in the last seven years.

            Lessard made seven saves in net for Bowdoin while Shaw stopped six shots for Middlebury. The Panthers held a 15-14 edge in shots, while Bowdoin earned an 11-9 edge in penalty corners. 

            Greer scored the game-winning goal on an overtime penalty stroke to lift the third-seeded Panthers over second-seeded Amherst 2-1 in the NESCAC Field Hockey semifinals Saturday at Bowdoin College.

            Greer's game-winner capped an exciting overtime period that saw the Panthers garner most of the chances. Middlebury sophomore Elinore O’Brien (New Canaan, Conn.) drew Amherst netminder Rachel Tannenbaum out of the net and put a low shot on goal that hit the foot of an Amherst defender. Greer stepped to the ball and buried the ensuing penalty stroke to the top right corner of the net to boost the Panthers into the Sunday’s Championship match.

            Amherst jumped out to an early lead just 4:59 into the contest when the ball deflected off the body of a Middlebury defender on the goal line and resulted in a penalty stroke. Carly Dudzik ripped the shot to the upper left half of the net to put the Jeffs on top, 1-0. Middlebury responded before intermission when Fowler controlled a rebound in close and lifted the ball over a diving Tannenbuam at 24:50.

            Middlebury generated a number of quality scoring opportunities on seven second half penalty corners. Tannenbaum made solid saves on successive shots late in the period and Greer hit a post as the game remained deadlocked at the end of regulation. 

            The Panthers held the advantage in both penalty corners (13-7) and shots (22-11). Tannenbaum made 10 saves to keep the Jeffs in the contest. Shaw made four stops and allowed zero goals in the win for the Panthers.

• Field hockey record: 14-3
• Up next: 11/12 vs. TBA - 1 @ Skidmore, 11/13 – NCAA Regional Final @ Skidmore - 1