Field Hockey Falls In NCAA Title Game
November 20, 2011
Middlebury saw its hopes of an NCAA Championship fall short, dropping a 3-1 game to The College of New Jersey. The title game took place on Vendetti Field on the campus of Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. The Lions won their 14th straight game to finish at 24-2 overall, while the Panthers finish the year with a 17-4 mark. Appearing in the NCAA title game for the sixth time in school history, Middlebury previously won the championship in ’98.
TCNJ had the best chance early on when Kathleen Notos redirected a pass that hit the post in the 10th minute. Middlebury came back five minutes later when Lauren Greer was denied breaking in as Shannon Syciarz came out to make a save. Less than a minute later, the Panthers had a golden opportunity to score when Greer sent a pass towards the goal. Hannah Clarke redirected the ball out of midair, but TCNJ’s Meredith Jeffries was there to make a defensive save.
The Lions’ nearly broke through at 21:41, when Alex Okuniewicz sent a high shot in on Panther keeper Becca Shaw at 21:41, but Shaw made a blocker save.
TCNJ scored the only goal of the first half at the 22:59 mark, with Notos netting her eighth of the season. Erin Waller made a nice play with the ball, tipping it to herself twice before finding Notos who swept in a shot.
Greer broke in one-on-one in the 30th minute, looking to tie the game. Syciarz came way out of the crease to cut off the angle on the right side, as Greer’s shot deflected off Syciarz and over the end line.
The first half ended with the Lions holding an 8-7 shots advantage and a 6-4 lead in penalty corners.
Middlebury tied the game up just 2:24 into the second half with Hannah Clarke netting her 13th of the season. Elinore O’Brien gathered the ball seven yards out, sliding a quick pass to Clarke on the left, who swept in into the cage.
TCNJ threatened again 10 minutes into the second half with Waller hitting the post in the 45th minute. After a yellow card to TCNJ, the Panthers were to enjoy a player advantage for five minutes, but the Lions scored less than a minute into the advantage, taking a 2-1 lead. Waller earned the goal, scoring with a blast on a penalty corner after a quick pass from Camille Passucci.
Middlebury looked to tie the game at 53:37, with Syciarz coming out to deny Charlotte Gardiner as she turned quickly and put a shot on the cage. The Panthers threatened again a few minutes later when Greer tried to find Clarke in transition, with a defender breaking up the pass.
New Jersey came on strong in the 61st minute, but Shaw came up with a pair of big saves on Okuniewicz and Notos. The Lions gained some breathing room with just 5:46 remaining, with a goal on a penalty corner with the Panthers a player down on a yellow card. Waller and Passucci hooked up once again, with a blast from the top of the circle by Waller for her second of the game and eighth of the year.
TCNJ outshot the Panthers 21-14 in the game, with a 12-7 edge in penalty corners. Shaw finished with six saves, while Syciarz made seven for the Lions.
Gardiner, Greer and O’Brien earned All-Tournament team honors.