Sports recap: November 7, 2019

CROSS COUNTRY

Cross country teams place solidly at NESCACs

BY JORDAN HOWELL

The Panther Cross Country teams are already off to a good start in the championship portion of the season. The men placed third, while the women placed fourth in their respective NESCAC Championship meets on Saturday, Nov. 2.

The top two finishers for the men were Theo Henderson ’20 and Henry Fleming ’20.  Henderson captured second with a time of 25:41.8.  Fleming followed close behind coming in at 26:00.7 to pick up 10th place. 

The top two finishers for the women were Meg Wilson ’20 and Talia Ruxin ’20.  Wilson grabbed 10th place with a time of 22:46.8. Ruxin came in right behind her in 11th place with a time of 22:47.1.

Ruxin commented on her team’s performance. “The team had a strong performance at NESCACs,” Ruxin said. “Every Midd runner ran considerably faster than five weeks ago on the same course!”

The Panthers’ next meet will be the NCAA Regional Championships on Saturday, Nov. 16.  

 “The general feeling is that the best is yet to come,” Ruxin said. “Coach Nicole Wilkerson has the training very dialed in for the final few weeks of the season. With her coaching experience and the team’s positive energy, we should be primed for a great performance.”

VOLLEYBALL

Volleyball sweeps weekend, ends regular season on high note

BY HEATHER BOEHM

Women’s volleyball closed out their regular reason with dominant play against conference rivals. The Panthers overcame Williams on the road in a five-set nail-biter on Friday, Nov. 1 and swept Hamilton on Saturday, Nov. 2. 

“This weekend, the team came in with focus,” said Chellsa Ferdinand ’20. “After disappointing losses to Bowdoin and Tufts, we knew that defeat this past weekend was not an option.”

Middlebury started off the match with a decisive first set. The Panther offense lifted themselves to a 25-16 win that gave them some momentum heading into the second. The Ephs showed resilience in the second set but were edged by the Panthers by two points. The close set gave the Ephs some hope going into the third and they were able to beat out the Panthers 28-26. The next two sets were just as tight. The women capitalized on a few Williams errors, and took home the win in the final period. 

The Panthers built off of this triumph going into Saturday’s contest with a 3-0 shutout. Middlebury slid past Hamilton by two points in the first set and eased by in the next two. Sophomore Maggie Wise led the offense with 10 kills, while Senior captain Gigi Alper held up the defensive front with 16 digs. 

“Our team has incredible potential,” said Ferdinand. “We were resilient in the face of adversity. We all want nothing more than the best.”

Volleyball’s performances helped the women secure a spot in the conference tournament. Middlebury will fight for a chance to pick up a NESCAC title this weekend on the road against Amherst in a quarterfinal matchup. 

WOMEN’S SOCCER

BY HEATHER BOEHM

Women’s soccer came up big with a 2-1 victory over Wesleyan in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament on Saturday, Nov. 2. 

The Panthers won the race to the scoreboard within the five minute mark. Simone Ameer ’21 capitalized on a Cardinal opening and slapped the ball to the back of the net. Middlebury’s offense spent most of the game giving the Cardinal defense a tough time but had an unlucky setback in the 61st minute. Wesleyan’s Dani Milovanov snuck her way in to bring some hope to her teammates.  

Jinx Charman ’20 commented on her team’s effort. “Wesleyan is always a really tough opponent,” said Charman. “They have had some great wins this season, so we knew we had to get a goal in quickly. When they tied it up, our team really stepped our level up under pressure and we decided to high press their defense, which gave us a lot more opportunities.”

One of those opportunities led the way to sophomore Ellie Bavier’s goal. With time running out, Senior captain Olivia Miller paved the way for her game-winning effort with a well-placed cross.  

Middlebury will take some confidence from this triumph but will refocus for their semifinal matchup against long-time foe Williams on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Tufts. After a silent 1-1 draw with the Ephs earlier this season, the Panthers will come out hunting.

“We are really excited to face Williams again, and hopefully we will get redemption for the national championship,” said Charman.  

The championship game will be held on Sunday, Nov. 10 at Tufts as well.

FOOTBALL

BY LAUREN BOYD

The Middlebury Panthers improved to an 8-0 record this past Saturday, grinding out a win against a 4-4 Hamilton team. Not only did the Panthers take home the “Rocking Chair Classic” trophy, but also stepped one game closer to an undefeated season, guaranteeing a share in the NESCAC title.

Heading into the game with a 7-game win streak, the Panthers faced immense pressure to perform. The Middlebury squad hoped to extend this winning streak, clinch a spot as NESCAC champions, and honor their seniors in their last home game. The stands, packed with fans, friends, family, and alumni, kept loud and proud throughout the contest.

During the first drive of the game, quarterback Will Jernigan ’21 led the Panthers 60 yards down the field. After a connection between Jernigan and senior Frank Cosolito, Alex Maldjian ’23 punched in the first score of the game.

After a Hamilton response, tying up the game 7-7, the Panthers quickly responded to the pressure. Another drive by the Panthers led to a second Maldjian touchdown, bringing Middlebury to a 14-7 lead.

The Panthers would hold out for the rest of the game, preventing the Continentals from putting more points on the board. In the process, Middlebury claimed (at minimum) a share of the NESCAC title. Rounding out their season with a win against Tufts would mean being sole NESCAC champions and an undefeated season.

The Jumbos will be coming to prevent Middlebury from attaining a 9-0 record, hoping to move above .500 themselves. Falling to Williams, Wesleyan, Amherst, and Hamilton, Tufts currently holds a 4-4 record, tied up with the Hamilton Continentals.

The Panthers will kick-off their final NESCAC match on Saturday at 12:30PM.

FIELD HOCKEY

BY MIGUEL ESPINOSA

First-seeded field hockey topped Trinity, 3-1 at home in the NESCAC Quarterfinal on Saturday, Nov. 4. The Panthers advanced to the semifinals where they’ll face off against seventh-seeded Hamiliton on Saturday, Nov. 9. Middlebury will be hosting championship weekend, including the semifinal game between Tufts and Williams.

Forward Katie George ’23 put the Panthers on the scoreboard early in the first quarter and was assisted by captain Marissa Baker ’20. The Panthers augmented their lead in the second quarter thanks to goals by Audrey Lazar ’23 and Danielle Brown ’21. Trinity managed to score their only goal 20 seconds into the third quarter.

 “We changed a couple of people’s positions and were able to better utilize some of our strengths in doing so,” said Erin Nicholas ’21, when asked about what clicked for the Panthers, offensively and defensively. “Our new formation allowed us to possess the ball a bit better while also providing us the opportunity to attack from different areas on the field.” 

MEN’S SOCCER

BY ERIK ARVIDSSON

The Panther men headed into postseason play determined to get a win to keep their season alive. First up was the NESCAC tournament quarter-finals against Connecticut College on Saturday, Nov. 2. After 110 minutes of scoreless play, a stat line not too uncommon for the Panthers this year, the game headed to a shootout. After the first five penalties resulted in a 3-3 tie, the shootout would be decided by sudden death. With the game on the line, Liam Sloane ’22 stepped up and netted the ball into the left corner. Goalkeeper Marco Kaper ’21 secured the final save to give the Panthers a birth into the NESCAC semi’s next weekend.

When asked about how it felt to convert the game winning goal, Sloane praised the team’s collective effort. “I was very happy to convert that penalty,” said Sloane, “but overall happier about the incredible team effort we put in.”

This weekend the Panther’s head to Amherst to face the top-ranked team in the nation. If they beat the Mammoths they will stay in Amherst for a chance to play for the tournament championship game on Sunday, Nov. 10. After tying the Mammoths during the regular season, Kenan Ulku-Steiner ’22 believes that “the key this weekend will be to run faster and kick the ball farther.”

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