Field Hockey Falls In NCAA Title Game

November 17, 2007

Middlebury saw its hopes of a second NCAA field hockey title come to an end as they fell 4-3 to Bowdoin in the title game at Ursinus. The Panthers scored as many goals in the game as the Polar Bears had allowed all season. The national championship was the first-ever for Bowdoin College, as they finish the year with a perfect 20-0 mark. Middlebury ends the season at 17-5.

In the season's third meeting between the teams, it was Bowdoin who earned the first great chance of the game as a Polar Bear corner paid off just 3:25 into the contest. Kristen Veiga delivered a corner to the placement of Val Young. Julia King ripped a low shot that was deflected in front by Lindsay McNamara, who tipped it inside the left post to give Bowdoin a 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later, a Polar Bear turnover resulted in the first Middlebury penalty corner of the game. Lindsay McBride whistled a low shot that sailed wide left, keeping the game scoreless. Marnie Rowe earned another chance with 20 minutes remaining in the opening period, wristing a shot from the left wing that was kicked away by Bowdoin goalkeeper Emileigh Mercer. The Polar Bears replied with a great scoring opportunity minutes later, as Hillary Hoffman broke in all alone on Middlebury keeper Caitlin Pentifallo. Pentifallo's diving pad save kept it a one-goal deficit for the Panthers.

Middlebury was able to even the score after a scrum in front of the net with 13:56 remaining. Off of the Panther's fourth corner of the game, Heather McCormack's initial shot was blocked by Mercer, but McCormack's second chance was lifted over the diving Bowdoin goalkeeper and into the cage to deadlock the contest. The Panthers took the lead just seconds 1:41 later, as Rowe played a corner pass to the waiting stick of Lacey Farrell. Farrell placed it for McBride, who rifled a shot past Mercer to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead and put Bowdoin behind on the scoreboard for the first time all season.

Bowdoin replied with an offensive push, as an Ingrid Oelschlager run resulted in a foul from behind by Middlebury and a penalty shot for the Polar Bears. Lindsay McNamara buried the stroke inside the left post with just under 11 minutes left in the period.

With under a minute left in the half, Middlebury earned another penalty corner, but could not convert as the game entered intermission tied at two apiece.

Bowdoin regained the lead with 26:56 remaining as an entry pass from Kate Gormley found the leg pads of Pentifallo. The rebound came to the waiting stick of McNamara, who lofted the ball over the Panther keeper and into the cage for a 3-2 advantage. Middlebury answered with an offensive push, as Allison Grant took control of a loose ball in front. Mercer made a kick save to maintain the one-goal lead with 23 minutes to go.

Bowdoin increased their lead with 18:57 to go thanks to a strong individual effort from Oelschlager. The NESCAC Rookie of the Year charged into the circle, earning a rebound off Pentifallo. Oelschlager slapped home the loose ball to give the Polar Bears a 4-2 advantage.

Middlebury attempted to get back into the game off a penalty corner with under 14 minutes to go. A bouncing ball in the circle came to the stick of Reid Berrien, who buried her 22nd goal of the year to close the gap to a single tally, 4-3. The Panthers made a push and earned a penalty corner with under three minutes to go. But Kristen Veiga stepped in front for Bowdoin, breaking up the chance. That proved to be the final opportunity for the Panthers, who couldn't find the equalizer.

Despite allowing a season-high three goals, as many as they had allowed combined during the season, the Polar Bears prevailed thanks to five saves from Mercer. Pentifallo made four stops for Middlebury. McNamara set the record for goals in an NCAA Tournament (9), while tying the "Final Four" single-game mark with four on Saturday. The Polar Bears placed four on the All-Tournament team (McNamara, Mercer, Young and Oelschlager) while the Panthers had three (McCormack, Petrelli, and Entwistle).