Middlebury

Field Hockey To Host NESCAC Quarterfinal Game

October 28, 2011

With a 10-0 conference mark, defending conference champion Bowdoin College has secured the number-one seed and home field advantage throughout the 2011 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship. The Polar Bears will join Amherst, Middlebury, and Tufts in hosting one of four quarterfinal games this Saturday, Oct. 29 with all four matches slated for a 1:00 p.m. start. The highest seed following this weekend will host the semifinals and final on Nov. 5-6.

Bowdoin (14-0, 10-0 NESCAC) locked up the top seed in this year's tournament with a 1-0 victory at Trinity on Saturday, Oct. 22, as no team could catch the Polar Bears in the conference standings with the win. The defending NESCAC and NCAA champions completed a perfect regular season on Wednesday evening with a 2-1 decision over Tufts, the team it defeated last fall for the league title. The Polar Bears have been the team to beat when it comes to the NESCAC championship, as they have won five of the last six crowns and own a 13-1 record over that span. Bowdoin will begin its quest for a seventh title on Saturday when it hosts eighth-seeded Hamilton (5-9, 3-7 NESCAC). Although the Continentals fell in their final conference match on Saturday against Tufts, 2-0, they were guaranteed a spot in the tournament with the head-to-head tie-breaker over Connecticut College if the Camels tied them in the standings. Hamilton is in the NESCAC for field hockey this year for the first time and will be making its first conference tournament appearance. The Continentals have struggled as of late, winning only once in their last eight outings.

Three teams were tied for second in the conference entering Wednesday's action with Amherst, Middlebury, and Tufts all 7-2. The Jumbos suffered a 2-1 setback at Bowdoin to drop to fourth in the standings, however the Lord Jeffs and the Panthers both won to finish at 8-2 in NESCAC play and Amherst earned the second seed thanks to its 3-1 win over Middlebury on Sept. 18. The Jeffs (12-2) are in the midst of a remarkable fall, having only lost twice with 2-1 setbacks at Hamilton (Sept. 24) and Bowdoin (Oct. 16). The second-place showing in the standings matched their best finish, which came in 2000, and the Jeffs will look to take their first step towards what would be their first conference crown when they face seventh-seeded Wesleyan (8-6, 4-6 NESCAC) for the second time in a week. Amherst earned a shutout this past Saturday, 2-0, a decision which snapped the Cardinals five-game winning streak. Wesleyan also fell in its final game against Trinity, 2-1, and finished tied in the standings with Williams. The Cardinals were relegated to seventh based on the head-to-head tie-breaker with the Ephs. Saturday's first round showdown will mark the second year in a row that Amherst and Wesleyan have faced each other in the quarterfinals. The Jeffs took the 2010 meeting by a 3-0 score.

Third-seeded Middlebury (12-2, 8-2 NESCAC) will host sixth-seeded Williams (7-7, 4-6 NESCAC) for the second time in four days after the Panthers picked up a 6-3 victory over the Ephs on Wednesday evening. This will be the third time in the last four years that Middlebury and Williams have squared off in the quarterfinals only days after ending the regular season against one another. In 2008, Middlebury edged Williams in overtime 3-2 and then overcame the Ephs by a 2-1 score less than 48 hours later. The following year, the Panthers beat the Ephs 7-1, however Williams returned to Middlebury two days later and posted a 2-1 victory. It should come as little surprise that these two squads have a bit of postseason history between them. Williams holds the all-time advantage in tournament play, 4-2, highlighted by a 4-3 overtime win over Middlebury for the 2004 championship a year after falling to the Panthers for the 2003 crown, 1-0. After missing the tournament entirely last fall, the Ephs look to return to the semifinals for the ninth time. Middlebury, which was upended by Trinity in the 2010 quarterfinals, has not made the semis since 2008.

The final quarterfinal contest features a pair of teams that have become familiar foes in the NESCAC championship. Tufts (11-3, 7-3 NESCAC), the fourth seed in this year's tournament, will battle for the fourth year in a row Trinity (10-4, 6-4 NESCAC), the fifth seed. All three previous meetings have gone to the Jumbos, two by a single goal. Tufts downed Trinity in overtime in the 2008 semifinals to reach the conference final for the first time ever. The next fall, the Jumbos upset the top-seeded Bantams by a 3-2 score for their first NESCAC title. Tufts pushed their playoff record against Trinity to 3-0 in last year's semifinals, handing the Bantams a 3-0 decision. The lone meeting of the regular season this year proved to be another epic match, as Tufts edged Trinity 3-2 in overtime in Medford. The Jumbos' three losses have come at the hands of the three teams above them in the conference standings, with the 2-1 setback at Bowdoin on Wednesday snapping a six-game winning streak. The Bantams will be looking to build some momentum following a 2-1 win at Wesleyan in the season finale. It will be interesting to see which team advances to next weekend's semifinals. Tufts has reach the round of four in each of the last five years, while Trinity has advanced to the past three semifinals.

2011 NESCAC FIELD HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, October 29 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Hamilton at No. 1 Bowdoin - 1:00 p.m.
No. 7 Wesleyan at No. 2 Amherst - 1:00 p.m.
No. 6 Williams at No. 3 Middlebury - 1:00 p.m.
No. 5 Trinity at No. 4 Tufts - 1:00 p.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, November 5
at Highest Remaining Seed
11:00 a.m./1:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, November 6
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.

--courtesy NESCAC--