Sports recaps: Nov. 14

UNDEFEATED FOOTBALL MAKES HISTORY, WINS ‘CAC CROWN

BY LAUREN BOYD

The Middlebury football team made history this past weekend, becoming the first NESCAC team to go 9-0 during conference play. With this historic achievement, the Panthers also secured a solo NESCAC title after defeating Tufts 31-24 on Saturday, Nov. 9.

The Panthers started off their final game of the season with a 7-0 lead, as QB Will Jernigan ’21 drove the ball into the end-zone. Their lead didn’t last long, as Tufts was able to respond quickly, tying up the game by the end of the first quarter.

Maxim Bochman ’20 and Jernigan led Middlebury down the field on the next drive, culminating in a touchdown pass between the two Panthers. Up 14-7 for some time, the Panthers capitalized on two interceptions (Finn Muldoon ’23 and Kevin Hartley ’20) with a Carter Massengill ’20 field goal. Going into the half, Middlebury topped the Jumbos 17-7.

Returning from halftime, the Panthers were calm and collected, which propelled them throughout the rest of the game. Jernigan and Bochman put the next touchdown on the board, with another touchdown pass for the score. The Jumbos answered with a touchdown of their own, but couldn’t defend a response from the Panthers. Middlebury upped the score to 31–14 with a touchdown run from RB Alex Maldjian ’23.

Although Tufts was able to score another 10 points, the contest ended with a Panther win and NESCAC title. Family, friends, alumni and fans made the trek to Tufts to watch the historic event, as the Panthers acquired their fourth overall NESCAC title and first solo title since 2007.

FIELD HOCKEY WINS THIRD STRAIGHT NESCAC TITLE

BY MIGUEL ESPINOSA

Field hockey snatched the NESCAC title in an overtime thriller against Tufts on Sunday, Nov. 10. The victory marked the Panthers’ third-straight conference championship and illustrated Coach DeLorenzo’s hugely successful run in the past several years. Since the 2017 season, field hockey has accumulated a 58–4 record and earned two national championships. The team seeks to pick up its third-straight national championship once it embarks upon the NCAA tournament. The Panthers’ first matchup will be against the winner of Babson/St. Joseph’s (Maine) on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 11:00 a.m. and will be played at Kohn Field.

Last Sunday’s close battle saw no team scoring in the first quarter. The Panthers eventually struck first one minute into the second quarter, thanks to a goal by Emma Johns ’20 and an assist by Erin Nicholas ’21. Momentum quickly swung in Tufts’ favor, however, once they tallied two unanswered goals in the second and third quarters. Middlebury then managed to tie the game with eight minutes left in regulation with a goal by Katie George ’23. The match headed to overtime and captain Marissa Baker ’20 buried a rebound shot into the opposing net with four seconds left in overtime. 

Ali Denby ’20 was awarded NESCAC Player of the Week for her grit on defense. 

“We played with a lot of heart and energy [on Sunday],” Nicholas said, when asked about what contributed to their championship victory. “Everyone was determined to win and this was demonstrated both on the field and on the sidelines.”

More work, however, still lies ahead for the Panthers. 

“To prepare for regionals we want to build off of the momentum from the Tufts game,” Nicholas said. “We learned a lot about our strengths and weaknesses as a team and we want to use these lessons to help guide our practices in the following weeks.”

Men’s soccer edged in NESCAC championship, will enter NCAA tournament

BY ERIK ARDVIDSSON

Heading into the postseason with just two regular season losses, the men’s soccer team believed that they’d be difficult to eliminate. Their play backed up their confidence; in the NESCAC semifinals, they took down Amherst, the first-ranked team in the country. The following day, Middlebury faced defending national champion Tufts for a shot at the NESCAC title. Tufts would score a heartbreaking last minute goal to prevail over the Panthers, 2-1.

Despite the disappointing loss, the Panthers learned that their season would be extended when they received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. On Saturday, Nov. 16, the Panthers will travel to Troy, N.Y. to face Johnson and Wales University. After two years of first-round exists, the boys are ready for vengeance. 

“I think the key for the game this weekend is to take advantage of opportunities when we are wide open in front of the net,” Jake Labranche ’21 said. “To do that, we just need to shoot the ball, and hope it goes in the goal.”

Volleyball fights in NESCAC play, finishes in semi finals

BY HEATHER BOEHM

The Panthers gave it their all this weekend during post-season play. On Friday, Nov. 8, the women overcame Amherst in a thrilling five-setter before ultimately falling the next day to Tufts to end their run.

After losing in straight sets last time around to Amherst, the Middlebury women knew they had to come in and make a statement- and that is what they did. The Panthers started the match off on their terms, denying a chance to be shoved around by Amherst with a 25-17 first set. The Mammoths found a way to rebound in the second and knotted the game at one set a piece. The following two sets mirrored the first two, and the teams would fight for a chance to keep their season alive in a fifth-set tiebreaker. The score was neck and neck until Laney Sullivan ’23 capitalized on a Mammoth error and brought her team to the NESCAC semifinals with a 16-14 finish.

The Panthers were ready to give the top team in the conference a run for its money after coming off of a big win the day before. Tufts’ early runs defined the rest of the match, with a little help from a home court advantage. The Panthers had a hard time narrowing the large margins and finding their stride. After a tough two sets, Middlebury found its groove a little too late in the third set. Midd was able to get on top briefly with a 10-9 lead, but ultimately fell 25-20 in the final period.

Although the women have a bottom-heavy line up, it will be tough to see some seniors go. Gigi Alper ’20 may be hanging her jersey up for good, but in her four years she made a name for herself in Middlebury volleyball history. The senior captain rounded out her last hurrah by ending up with the third most digs in program history. 

Chellsa Ferdinand ’20, an opinion editor for the Campus, will leave her final season tallying 146 kills, 1867 Assists, and 608 digs and Beth Neal ’20 will bow out with 110 digs to her name.

The Panthers close out the 2019 season with a 15-10 record, going 6-4 in the NESCAC. They will look to the off-season to train for next year’s revenge with a young and hungry team.

Women’s soccer falls in NESCAC title match, earns NCAA bid

BY HEATHER BOEHM

This past weekend, the reigning NESCAC champion Panthers were looking to preserve their title. While the women moved past archrival Williams to reach the finals, they fell just short of their goal when fourth-ranked Amherst found its way to the back of the net for a 1-0 victory.  

The heated rivalry between the Panthers and the Ephs is not new, but tensions were high this season after last year’s battles. Middlebury had previously tied Williams in regular season play and, with a chip on their shoulder, went back to the drawing board in preparation for another fight on Saturday, Nov. 9.

There were opportunities on both sides early on. Finally, Olivia Miller ’20 set Gretchen McGrath ’21 up with a perfectly placed ball that she was able to slap past the Eph goalie. Throughout the rest of the first half Williams threatened the Middlebury defense, but nothing was able to sneak past Eva Shaw ’20.5.

The Panthers remained offensive in the second period. Izzy Hartnett ’21 doubled her team’s tally with a remarkable header off a corner kick from Eliza Robinson ’21. The 2-0 score would hold until the last whistle, and the women would get another chance to pick up a conference title.

The Panthers knew they would have to bring their best on Sunday, Nov. 10 as Amherst had been the only team to topple Middlebury in the regular season. The women did an impressive job denying Mammoth threats early on. But the Amherst offense did not let up and continued to apply intense pressure waiting for their chance to pounce. While the score was tied until the 53rd minute, there was a large disparity between the shots on goal per contender. Amherst rounded out the match with six shots on goal compared to Middlebury’s one from Ellie Greenberg ’20.

The Amherst goal during the 53rd would be the only one scored throughout the contest and give the team its fifth conference title in program history.

Due to the Panthers’ strong all-around play, Middlebury still received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and will host the University of New England on Saturday, Nov. 16. 

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