Field Hockey Flies to Final Four

By CAROLINE BARTLETT

BENJY RENTON/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS
Field hockey is poised to secure an NCAA title for the second consecutive year. Here the team celebrates after its NCAA Regional Championship win on Sunday, Nov. 11.

After racking up a total of 13 goals in two massive wins, field hockey hits the road for Spooky Nook in Manheim, Pennsylvania, for the NCAA Championship weekend.

On Saturday, Middlebury easily defeated Keene State by a whopping score of 8-0, scoring four goals in each half. The Panthers dominated throughout the game, managing to rip 31 shots while allowing only two attempts from the visitors. Erin Nicholas ’21 and Grace Jennings ’19 each scored twice while Emma Johns ’20, Ali Denby ’20, Julia Richards ’20 and Amanda Bozorgi ’19 each tallied one goal. 

BENJY RENTON/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS
Erin Nicholas ’21 is locked in, ready to inflict some damage.

Middlebury took home the NCAA Regional Championship title on Sunday with a 5-1 victory against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). The Panthers drew 11 penalty corners and made 20 shots, compared to TCNJ’s three and five, respectively. Johns, Nicholas and Jennings each scored another goal, while Meg Fearey ’21 and Marissa Baker ’20 also joined the long list of goal-scorers this weekend.

BENJY RENTON/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS
Grace Jennings ’19 celebrates after connecting with the back of the goal.

It is not uncommon for teams to let their guard down when in complete control of a game, which can sometimes lead to mistakes. But Middlebury’s commitment to its game plan was as strong as ever this weekend. “On Sunday, we were up by three within the first 10 minutes of being on the field,” Fearey explained. “However, this did not change our game. We don’t settle until a game is completely over, treating every minute as if it’s tied 0-0. It’s this mentality that contributes to our successes and allows us to be together for one more week and compete in the Final Four.”

With the NCAA Championship approaching and just one more week of practice left, the team remains focused on the present. 

“One of the hardest things to do in sports is to defend a championship,” Baker said. “Every year is a clean slate for a team, for better or for worse. What we did or didn’t accomplish last season has no effect on this season. So all we do is take it one game at a time, one team at a time.”

Nevertheless, the Panthers are feeling confident in their team’s ability and are ready to take flight at Spooky Nook this weekend. “I’m so proud of how far this team has come this season,” Bozorgi, one of the senior captains, said. “I feel like every week we’re just improving and adapting and hitting our peak just at the right time. I think that we’re just where we want to be heading into the Final Four this weekend.”

Led by repeat NESCAC Coach of the Year Katharine DeLorenzo, the Panthers will take on Rowan at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Tufts, who earned a bid after losing to Middlebury last weekend, battles Johns Hopkins in the other semifinal. The winners will meet in the NCAA Championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. 

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Field Hockey Flies to Final Four