Field Hockey Headed To Bowdoin For NESCAC Tourney-Watch Live!

November 1, 2007

Middlebury will make a run at the NESCAC championship as they travel to Bowdoin this weekend. The host school, the two-time defending NESCAC Field Hockey Champions, will host the 2007 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship at Howard Ryan Field in Brunswick, Maine. Top-seeded Bowdoin takes on fourth-seeded Williams in the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 11:00 a.m. before second-seeded Tufts battles third-seeded Middlebury at 1:00 p.m. The 2007 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship concludes on Sunday, Nov. 4, with the final at 12:00 p.m.

Bowdoin (14-0, 9-0 NESCAC) wrapped up the top seed with two weeks still remaining in the regular season thanks to an 8-0 win over Connecticut College on Oct. 13. The Polar Bears completed a perfect regular season last Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Wesleyan, the second time in three years that Bowdoin has put together an unblemished regular season. The Polar Bears have utilized a powerful combination of offensive attack and stellar defense en route to earning the number one seed for the third year in a row. The Bowdoin offense currently averages 4.19 goals per game with a scoring margin of 4.12, both league-leading numbers. Junior forward Lindsay McNamara (Milton, Mass.) and rookie midfielder Ingrid Oelschlager (Roanoke, Va.) are tied for the team lead in goals with 15 each so far this season, as McNamara is first among her teammates in points with 35 while Oelschlager is a close second with 31. Defensively, the Polar Bears have been a brick wall, allowing only one goal over 14 games this season, the lone goal allowed coming during a 2-1 win at Tufts on Oct. 6. Bowdoin leads the nation in goals against average with a miniscule 0.07 mark, and defense has been the hallmark of Bowdoin's two previous championship runs, having not allowed a goal in their last four tournament games. Junior goalkeeper Emileigh Mercer (Newton, Mass.) anchors the Bowdoin defense, holding a conference-best 0.08 goals against average and .968 save percentage.

Hoping to bring a halt to Bowdoin's perfect season on Saturday will be fourth-seeded Williams (9-6, 5-4 NESCAC). The Ephs return to the semifinals this year after missing out last fall for the first time in tournament history, as Williams earned a 3-1 victory over Amherst, the squad that knocked the Ephs out of the playoffs last fall, on Sunday in the first round. The Ephs opened the season with five straight victories before faltering near the end of September by going 4-6 during the second half of the season, including losses to the other three semifinal participants. Williams lost the lone meeting with Bowdoin on Sept. 22 by a 1-0 score in Brunswick. Statistically this season, Williams ranks sixth among NESCAC teams in scoring, averaging 2.22 goals per game and out-scoring opponents by a margin of 0.85, while the defense is fourth among conference teams with a goals against average of 1.37. The balanced Eph attack is led by junior forward Meighan McGowan (Greenwich, Conn.), the 2006 NESCAC Player of the Year, with six goals and eight assists for 20 points through 15 outings. Williams, the winner of three NESCAC titles, the last coming in 2004, holds a slim 3-2 all-time advantage over Bowdoin in tournament play.

Second-seeded Tufts (12-3, 7-2 NESCAC) rolls into the weekend riding a seven-game win streak and needing just one more win to tie the program record for victories in a season. The Jumbos capped an impressive regular season last Saturday for the best-ever finish in the NESCAC standings with a 5-1 decision at Connecticut College, followed by edging Wesleyan in Sunday's first round by a 1-0 score. Although Tufts and Middlebury tied with identical 7-2 conference marks, the Jumbos' 3-1 win on Sept. 15 - their first victory over the Panthers since 1985 - gave Tufts the head-to-head advantage. While Tufts ranks fourth among NESCAC teams in scoring this season, tallying on-average 2.84 goals per game, the Jumbos have already set a school mark for goals in a season with 43, as they have out-scored opponents by over two goals per game. Senior forward Ileana Casellas-Katz (Denmark, Maine) has had the hot hand for Tufts this fall, collecting 14 goals, six of which have served as game-winners, and three assists for 31 points, with her 14 tallies ranking fifth among all conference goal scorers. Rookie goalkeeper Katie Hyder (Winston-Salem, N.C.) has played every minute in the cage this year for the Jumbos, supporting a defense that finds itself second among league teams with a 0.79 goals against average. Hyder owns a 12-3 record and a NESCAC-best seven shutouts.

Third-seeded Middlebury (12-3, 7-2 NESCAC) brings a streak of its own into Saturday's semifinal showdown with Tufts, as the Panthers have won their last four games and seven of their last eight. Middlebury advanced out of the first round with a 4-2 victory over Trinity, the second win in as many days for the Panthers over the Bantams. Saturday's game, only the second meeting between the two teams in tournament history, will be a rematch of the 2006 semifinal between the two squads which Middlebury took by a 4-1 score. Like the Panthers' counterparts in this year's semifinals, Middlebury ranks among the top teams in the NESCAC in scoring with an average 3.73 goals per game and a margin of 2.47, both second among league squads. Senior forward Reid Berrien (Westport, Conn.) currently holds the conference lead in both goals and points, recording 16 goals and four assists for 36 points though 15 games. Sophomore forward Heather McCormack (Rowley, Mass.) follows Berrien statistically for the Panthers, collecting 10 goals and six assists for 26 points.

--courtesy NESCAC--