Field Hockey Crowned NESCAC Champions

By CAROLINE BARTLETT

BENJY RENTON/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS
The field hockey team is the NESCAC champion for their second year in a row.

The Middlebury field hockey team was out to win this weekend, defeating both Trinity and Tufts to win the NESCAC Championship for the second year in a row. This is the sixth title in program history and the fifth in the last seven years. 

On Saturday, the Panthers knocked Trinity out of the semi-finals with a 1-0 victory at home. Despite the cold, rainy weather, excitement was high going into the match. Right from the start, Middlebury was out to win, creating several scoring opportunities in the first few minutes. At 10:37, Marissa Baker ’20 buried a centering pass from Erin Nicholas ’21 to edge the Panthers ahead. At halftime, electricity in the air caused a long weather delay, but Middlebury remained focused in the second half. The visitors posted some good scoring chances, but goalie Meg Collins ’19.5 made two incredible saves to keep the score at 1-0. 

MICHAEL BORENSTEIN/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS
Ali Denby ’20 passes the ball during 1-0 shutout match against Tufts in the NESCAC Championships, hosted at Middlebury on Nov. 4.

It wasn’t until Saturday evening that Tufts defeated Williams in the second semi-final game, securing their spot in the final on Sunday. “We definitely are not a team that thinks about the next game or hypothetical future, we focus on the game ahead of us and take it one step at a time,” Olivia Green ’20 said. “Going into this weekend, we were well-prepared and ready to go, but never thought about Sunday until the buzzer went off at the end of Saturday’s game.” 

Although they are nearing the end of a long season, the Panthers have not lost steam and are picking it up in practice. “In the past few weeks, people have been giving it their all at practice in order to ensure we’d be ready for game day, and that has definitely paid off,” said Green. 

From left to right: Coaches Andrea Way, Rachel Palumbo, Katharine DeLorenzo and Lauren Schweppe pose as NESCAC Champions.
BENJY RENTON/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS

Sunday’s championship game against Tufts was another exciting one for players and spectators alike. “Tufts is a really good team and one of our biggest rivals,” said Erin Nicholas ’21. “They are one of the only teams that plays the same formation as us, so it is usually a tough game because everyone is matched up and marked.” But the Panthers’ focused and intense preparation paid off. “After Emma and Marissa’s perfect execution of our corner play for a goal, we picked up momentum and started coming together as a team. We had a lot more opportunities after the goal,” said Nicholas. “At halftime we talked about the feeling that something clicked on the field which made the game a lot more exciting and competitive.” 

MICHAEL BORENSTEIN/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS
Marissa Baker ’20 jumps with joy after teammate Emma Johns ’20 scores game-winning goal.

Emma Johns ’21 scored the NESCAC Championship-winning goal on a penalty corner, with the help of her teammate Baker, who executed a behind the back pass at the top of the circle. “Winning the NESCAC title two years in a row is an amazing feeling and the team has put in an incredible amount of work to earn the title again,” said Johns. “This weekend showed how competitive the NESCAC is and I think that competition makes this title even more special.” 

Middlebury will host the regional rounds of NCAA tournament, taking on the winner of Keene State/SUNY New Paltz on Saturday at 11 a.m.

REID SMITH / THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS

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Field Hockey Crowned NESCAC Champions