Youth Movement Leads Field Hockey to Home Win over Tufts

By Fritz Parker

The Middlebury field hockey team solidified their spot among the top teams in the NESCAC this Saturday, Oct. 4, using five points from Pam Schulman ’17 to wallop conference foe Tufts by a score of 6-1 on rain-soaked Kohn field.

Entering the game, the Panthers and Jumbos were locked with Trinity in a three-way tie for second place in the NESCAC behind unbeaten Bowdoin. Middlebury – who lost to Bowdoin in a heartbreaker two weeks before – needed a statement win against Tufts in order to distance themselves from the pack in pursuit of the Polar Bears.

Playing on their home field on Saturday, the Panthers got their statement win and a lot more.

First-year midfielder Annie Leonard ’18 opened the scoring for Middlebury in just the third minute of play, tipping in a feed from Schulman to give Middlebury the early advantage. Eight minutes later, Bridget Instrum ’16 would take another pass from Schulman and fire it past the Tufts goalkeeper for a 2-0 lead, which is where the score would stay going into halftime.

The Panthers poured seven shots on goal in the opening period of play, while goalkeeper Emily Knapp ’15 would need just one save to keep the Jumbos quiet in the half.

Coming out of the break, the Panthers wasted no time in adding to their lead. Leonard scored her second of the game just a minute into the half off of another well-placed crossing pass from Schulman on a play that began with a penalty corner. That goal gave Schulman a trio of assists in the game, with nearly 34 minutes of action still to be played.

But Schulman was not done. Four minutes later, she tipped in a goal of her own to extend the lead to four, before converting a cross from Instrum for her second goal of the game. At that point in the 47th minute of the game, the Panthers held a 5-0 lead with Schulman playing a part in all five goals.

Tufts would break the shutout in the 62nd minute with a penalty-corner score from Jumbo Dominique Zarella. First-year Hollis Perticone ’18 – with help from Josie Trichka ’17 – responded for Middlebury to return the Panther lead to five at 6-1, where the score would stay until the closing whistle.

Middlebury’s arsenal of young talent was on full display against Tufts, with first and second-years scoring five of the team’s six goals. Underclassmen accounted for nine points in the game, a number which has tremendous implications for the future strength of the program.

Overall the Panthers outshot the Jumbos 16-6 on the afternoon, while using a 14-6 advantage in penalty corners to keep constant pressure on Tufts goalkeeper Bri Keenan. Knapp, meanwhile, recorded four saves in goal for Middlebury against just one goal allowed.

To cap off the weekend’s performance, Schulman was named NESCAC co-Player of the Week, the first such honor of her career.

Back in action against Tuesday, Oct. 7 against conference rival Williams, the Panthers again came out on top, claiming a 3-0 shutout victory over the Ephs.

After a scoreless first half against Williams, Shannon Hutteman ’16 opened the scoring for Middlebury with a goal in the 43rd minute. Instrum added an insurance goal for the Panthers ten minutes later, taking a feed from Cat Fowler ’15 and burying it in the cage for the 2-0 lead. Anna Kenyon ’16 finished off the scoring for Middlebury with an unassisted goal in the 64th minute to give the Panthers their final three-goal margin.

The Panther defense was particularly stout against Williams, allowing just two shots over the entirety of the game to help Knapp record her third shutout of the season.

Underclassmen have accounted for 25 of Middlebury’s 49 goals this season. Similarly, four of the Panthers’ six top point scorers are members of the classes of 2017 or 2018.

While the Panthers were beating Tufts on Saturday afternoon, Bowdoin was upset at home by Trinity in an overtime thriller, creating a three-way tie for first place in the conference between Middlebury, Bowdoin and Trinity.

The upset of Bowdoin sets up a showdown between Trinity and Middlebury on Saturday, Oct. 11. The winner of that game will remain alongside Bowdoin as the only one-loss teams in the NESCAC, with a relatively easy schedule remaining before the conference tournament tips off in late October.

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