September 13, 2010

            In a season-opening showdown between national top 10 NESCAC programs, #4 Tufts took a 3-0 victory over #8 Middlebury in field hockey at Bello Field on Saturday afternoon.

            Senior Tamara Brown, the all-time leading scorer in Tufts field hockey history, led the way with two goals. The Jumbo defense was solid, allowing just one Middlebury shot on goal. Tufts managed an 18-4 advantage in penalty corner opportunities.

            After mostly neutral play for 25 minutes of the first half, Tufts turned it on offensively in the last 10 minutes. Senior Melissa Burke scored the first goal of the season with 7:10 on the clock. Brown played the ball into the Middlebury defense, then Burke used her long reach to whack a loose ball into the cage for a 1-0 Jumbo lead.

            Tufts maintained the momentum, earning three penalty corner opportunities in the next few minutes. At the four-minute mark, Brown stick-handled herself into a scoring opportunity and finished for a 2-0 Jumbo margin. That was the score at the half.

            The visiting Panthers had momentum early in the second half. Junior Heather Karpas (Greenwood Village, Colo.) fired an open shot that Tufts junior Marianna Zak kicked away. Shortly later, Panther sophomore Lauren Greer (N. Hampton, N.H.) had a break-in that Zak deterred by coming out of the net and forcing a wide shot.

            Tufts extended its lead to 3-0 when senior co-captain Jess Perkins hammered a ball in from the top of the circle that Brown converted for her second of the game. Later on, Middlebury senior  Madison Kahn (St. Louis, Mo.) made a defensive save on an arching flip shot by Tufts junior Sarah Cannon to prevent further damage.

            Sophomore Madeline Brooks (Clayton, Mo.) finished with nine saves in the Panther goal. The Jumbos ended the game with a 29-9 count in shots.

            Middlebury College built a 5-2 advantage in the first half and then survived a valiant second-half comeback attempt by host Babson College on Sunday, as the visiting Panthers edged the Beavers, 6-5, in a non-conference field hockey contest at MacDowell Field.

            With the win, Middlebury, ranked eighth in the nation, improved to 1-1 on the year, while Babson suffered its first loss to fall to 2-1.

            Greer and senior captain Sally Ryan (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) both had big days on offense for the Panthers. Greer scored one goal and assisted three others - all in the first half, while Ryan added two goals and one assist. First-year Elinore O'Brien (New Canaan, Conn.), junior Hannah Clarke (Falmouth, Maine) and sophomore Clara St. Germain (Ashburnham, Mass.) each contributed one goal apiece for Middlebury, while Brooks and junior Becca Shaw (S. Burlington, Vt.) split time in net with Shaw accounting for all four of her team's saves.

            Babson was led by a monster performance from senior co-captain Colleen Kelly, who recorded three goals and two assists for eight points. Fellow senior captain Sarah Fredlund chipped in with one goal and one assist, first-year Morgan Lockwood also tallied a goal, and junior Jess Pashos went the distance in net, finishing with nine saves.

            Middlebury struck first in the high-scoring first half, as Greer fed Clarke on the left side for an easy 2-on-1 breakaway goal at 1:56. The Panthers then added to their lead at the five-minute mark, when O'Brien tipped a redirected corner drive inside the right post to make it 2-0.

            Babson rallied behind Kelly, who blasted home a direct drive on a penalty corner to put her team on the board at 16:24. The Beavers then tied the game just over three minutes later, when Lockwood took a feed from Kelly on the left side and ripped it past Brooks to make it 2-2 at 19:43.

            The rest of the first half would belong to the Panthers, who tallied three straight goals in the final 14 minutes. St. Germain started the run when she tucked in a rebound off Greer's saved shot on another breakaway at 21:33, and Ryan added a goal when she tipped a Greer pass inside the right post at 29:01. Greer then capped the half with a spectacular goal on a corner after time had expired, as she lifted a direct shot into the upper left corner to give Middlebury a 5-2 lead at the break.

            Kelly and the Beavers refused to go quietly, as they mounted a thrilling comeback in the second half of play. The senior captain scored her second goal of the afternoon on a drive from the right side at the 44-minute mark, and she then pulled Babson to within one when she placed a penalty stroke into the lower left corner at 47:51.

            Middlebury picked up a huge insurance goal with under nine minutes remaining, as Ryan stuffed another Greer rebound inside the left post to make it 6-4 at 61:31. That marker would prove critical in the closing seconds, as Fredlund tipped a Kelly pass into the upper left corner at 69:20. The Beavers would manage to get the ball into their offensive zone one last time in the closing seconds, but the Middlebury defense did not allow a shot as the Panthers held on for the dramatic 6-5 win.
• Field hockey record: 1-1                            
• Up next: 9/18 vs. Trinity - 2:00