Field Hockey Travels To Tufts For NESCAC Tournament - Watch Live!
November 5, 2008
Undefeated Tufts University will look to continue its winning ways this weekend during the final rounds of the 2008 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship. The top-seeded Jumbos have earned the right to host and will face fifth-seeded Trinity in the first semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 11:00 a.m. The late semifinal will feature second seed and defending NESCAC and NCAA champion Bowdoin against third seed Middlebury. The 2008 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship concludes on Sunday with the final getting underway at 12:00 p.m.
Top-seeded Tufts (15-0, 9-0 NESCAC) has had a historical fall, finishing atop the conference standings for the first time and breaking the previous record for wins in a season (13). The Jumbos traveled to Bowdoin in a winner-take-all season finale for the number-one seed and came away with a 4-3 victory. Tufts continued to roll in the quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon, overcoming an early 1-0 deficit by scoring five unanswered goals in a 5-1 win. A balanced mix of powerful offense and tough defense has been key for the Jumbos during their undefeated run. With a school-record 68 goals so far this season, Tufts averages a league-leading 4.53 goals per game, outscoring opponents by a margin of +3.58, while the defense is one of three teams in this weekend's championship that allows less than a goal per game (0.93). Looking to help her squad reach the championship game for the first time in program history will be forward Tamara Brown (Annandale, Va.). The sophomore has reestablished the Tufts mark for goals in a single campaign, collecting 21 so far to go along with four assists for a team-leading 46 points. Brown's goal and point totals both rank third among all conference players.
Making its first semifinal appearance in championship history on Saturday will be fifth-seeded Trinity (12-3, 6-3 NESCAC). The Bantams were in the hunt for the top seed in this year's playoffs heading into the final two weeks of the season, however back-to-back overtime losses at home to Tufts (2-1) and Amherst (1-0) put Trinity on the road in the quarterfinals. Meeting the Jeffs on Sunday for the second time in three days, the Bantams responded by tallying what proved to be the game's only goal early on and then withstood an Amherst flurry late for a 1-0 victory. Saturday's semifinal meeting between the Jumbos and the Bantams will be the second in postseason history, as Tufts claimed a 2-1 decision in the first round of the 2006 championship. This season, Trinity has benefited from a solid defensive unit, posting a NESCAC-best goals against average of 0.72 and allowing a league-low 11 goals though 15 games. Rookie Gina DiNallo (West Hartford, Conn.) has emerged as the top netminder for the Bantams. The first year goalkeeper sports a 0.86 goals against average (4th NESCAC) and a .871 save percentage (2nd). Senior back Megan Hannigan (Rye, N.Y.) is part of a Trinity defensive unit that has been successful in supporting DiNallo's efforts. Hannigan has recorded a league-leading six defensive saves so far this year.
Saturday's second semifinal will pit second seed and three-time defending NESCAC champion Bowdoin (13-2, 7-2 NESCAC) against third seed Middlebury (13-2). The Polar Bears and the Panthers, who faced off in last year's NCAA championship, have met in the tournament final in each of the last two years. Bowdoin looked well on its way to putting on a repeat performance of last year's magical 20-0 season until the Polar Bears were upended by Trinity at home on Oct. 18, 2-0. The aforementioned loss to Tufts in the regular season finale meant that Bowdoin would not finish atop the NESCAC standings for the first time in four years. The Polar Bears rebounded in the quarterfinals though, eventually overcoming Bates for a 5-2 victory. Statistically this season, Bowdoin ranks third in the conference in scoring with 3.60 goals per game and is tied with Trinity for first in goals allowed at 11, outscoring foes by a +2.87 margin. A bulk of the Polar Bears' offense has come from senior forward Lindsay McNamara (Milton, Mass.). The league's leading scorer through 15 games, McNamara, the 2007 NESCAC Player of the Year and the all-time leading scorer at Bowdoin, is one tally shy of tying the program record for goals in a season (27) that she set a year ago. Classmate Julia King (Yarmouth, Maine) is second to McNamara in points for the Polar Bears, as her fantastic stickwork has yielded a conference-best 14 assists.
If Middlebury hopes to have a shot at its second NESCAC title in program history (2003), then the Panthers will have to defeat Bowdoin for the first time since 2004. Middlebury heads into Saturday's semifinal showdown riding a six-game winning streak, most recently downing Williams in back-to-back one-goal victories, a 3-2 come-from-behind double-overtime win in the final contest of the regular season followed by a 2-1 decision in Sunday's quarterfinals. The previous meeting this fall went to Bowdoin 2-0 in Brunswick, Maine on Oct. 4, and the Polar Bears have won the only two playoff matchups in tournament history. The Panthers are second behind Tufts in scoring this fall, averaging 4.13 goals per game. Forward Chase Delano (Greenwich, Conn.) has had a breakout sophomore season for the Panthers. After recording four goals and three assists in her first year, Delano paces her club with 23 goals and seven assists for 54 points, second only to Bowdoin's McNamara among conference players. Delano's two goal performance in Sunday's quarterfinal against Williams moved her into a tie for the program's single-season scoring mark, a record which was set by current assistant coach Heidi Howard in 1998. In back, senior Taryn Petrelli (Harrison, N.Y.) captains a defense that ranks fourth in the NESCAC, allowing 1.23 goals per game.
2008 NESCAC FIELD HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Semifinals - Saturday, November 8 at Tufts
No. 5 Trinity at No. 1 Tufts - 11:00 a.m.
No. 3 Middlebury vs. No. 2 Bowdoin - 1:30 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, November 9 at Tufts
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.