Trinity Field Hockey Falls to Middlebury in NESCAC Championship Game

Trinity Field Hockey Falls to Middlebury in NESCAC Championship Game

Middlebury, Vt. - The Middlebury Panthers scored four times in the first half and never looked back, posting a 5-0 shutout over the Trinity College Bantams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Field Hockey Championship game on Sunday on Kohn Field. Middlebury claims its fifth conference title in program history and the fourth in the last six seasons. The top-seeded and second-ranked Panthers improve to 16-2 overall and receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament while No. 17-ranked Trinity, the tournament's No. 5 seed, falls to 12-6 on the year and awaits its NCAA Tournament destiny until Sunday night when the field is announced.

Middlebury got off to a quick start, taking a 1-0 lead 7:04 into the contest. Grace Jennings (Ghent, N.Y.) took a shot that Trinity goalie Lori Berger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) stopped, but Molly Freeman (North Kingstown, R.I.) slid in the rebound inside the right post. Emma Johns (North Andover, Mass.) later doubled the advantage for the Panthers, spinning and shooting from the left side for her fifth tally of the season with an even 23:00 on the clock.
 
Trinity had a quality chance to close the gap on a penalty corner with just over 17 minutes left in the first half but was not able to come up with the score. Senior co-captain Kelcie Finn (Weymouth, Mass.) fired a shot from the top of the arc that deflected off a defender, but Middlebury goalie Abby Furdak (Wellesley, Mass.) swatted the ball away as it was headed toward the upper portion of the net.
 
Middlebury captain Annie Leonard (Darien, Conn.) closed out the half with a pair of goals, scoring the first at 21:58 on an assist from Erin Nicholas (Scarsdale, N.Y.) and the second at 26:31 on a give-and-go with Lauren Schweppe (Chester Springs, Pa.). Both tallies came in the final 15 minutes of the opening frame as the hosts led 4-0 at the break.
 
In the second half, the Panthers added a final goal with 24:46 left on the clock when Freeman tipped in a shot by Schweppe.
 
The Bantams attempted to spoil the shutout in the final 10 minutes with a rush that began at midfield. First-year Kendall Brown (Greenwich, Conn.) carried the ball toward the Panther cage in transition with Finn racing down the right side, but Middlebury defender Olivia Green (Chappaqua, N.Y.) made a stellar defensive play to end the threat and preserve the final 5-0 score.
 
Furdak made one save for her fourth shutout of the season, while Berger had eight stops for the Bantams. Middlebury held an 18-4 edge in shots and took six of the game's eight penalty corners.