The first-ranked Middlebury field hockey team defeated visiting Bates 12-0 this Saturday, Oct. 20, pushing their record to 13-0 and locking down the first seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament.
The Panthers got on the board quickly on an unseasonably warm fall day, as Cat Fowler ’15 beat the Bobcat keeper two minutes in to give Middlebury the lead. Seconds later, Lauren Greer ’13 converted a penalty corner insert from Alyssa Dimaio ’15 for her first goal of the game. Anna Kenyon ’16 capped the Panther barrage with a tally of her own, giving Middlebury a 3-0 lead in less than four minutes.
Kenyon added her second goal later in the half, converting a feed from Fowler — her team-leading 13th assist of the season — to add to the Panther lead.
“Cat hit a great ball from the top of the circle and it tipped off the goalie’s pads, leaving it bouncing in front of the net,” said Kenyon. “I stepped over from the right wing and knocked the ball in.”
Greer’s second and third goals of the game made the score 6-0 25 minutes in before Dimaio found the cage to send the Panthers into halftime with a seven-goal lead.
“Lauren is usually face guarded or sometimes has multiple guards on her,” said Kenyon. “The emphasis other teams put on Lauren means that they are forced to leave other spots on the field more vulnerable, and because we have such depth on our team, we often capitalize on this vulnerability.”
Katherine Theiss ’14 and Shannon Hutteman ’16 opened the second-half scoring for Middlebury, each recording their first goal of the game. Chrissy Ritter ’16 scored two goals within 21 seconds to extend the Panther lead to 11.
“The first goal was off of a long hit from Mary Claire [Ecclesine ’16],” said Ritter. “Then Ellie [O’Brien ’14] stole the ball and hit it up to Katherine and me for a break away, two against one. The goalie came out a little bit too far so we could put the ball in from farther out; it all happened really fast because of the great transition from our mid field.”
Theiss’s second goal of the contest gave the Panthers a 12-0 lead that they would maintain until the final whistle.
Goalkeepers Madeline Brooks ’13 and Emily Knapp ’15 split the shutout for Middlebury, with Margaret Souther ’13 and Meredith Rowe ’15 anchoring a Panther defense which allowed just three shots, all in the second half.
With the win, Middlebury moves to 13-0 and captures the first seed for the NESCAC tournament with a 9-0 conference record. With one game still remaining in the regular season, the Panthers hold a tiebreaker over second-place Bowdoin. The Panthers assumed the top spot in the national rankings last week after a loss by previous number one Salisbury (Md.)
With the postseason less than two weeks away, the Panthers have a chance at their first undefeated season since 1974. The team’s last NCAA championship came in 1998, with the Panthers recording four runner-up finishes since then, including last year’s 3-1 loss to the College of New Jersey.
Middlebury is on pace for team season records in both goals and shutouts. The Panthers have also benefitted from an offensive unit that is more balanced than last year, with Greer accounting for 34 percent of their goals versus 45 percent a year ago.
“Although there is a lot of pressure, the amount of fun we have and the amount we have been rewarded for our hard work makes it all worth it,” said Kenyon.