#6 Panthers Rally Past #4 Tufts

Marissa Baker contributed a goal and an assist to win t Tufts.
Marissa Baker contributed a goal and an assist to win t Tufts.

The Middlebury field hockey team scored twice in the second half, coming away with a key 3-2 road NESCAC win Saturday at Tufts in a showdown of nationally-ranked programs. The Panther defense was stellar in the final 35 minutes, holding the fourth-ranked Jumbos (7-3, 6-1) without a shot on goal. Sixth-ranked Middlebury (8-2, 5-1) is right back on the field Sunday, traveling to Wesleyan for another conference game.

The visitors jumped out to a 1-0 lead, opening the scoring less than five minutes into the contest. Lauren Schweppe fired a shot on goal that Jumbo goalie Emily Polinski stopped, but the Panthers collected the rebound and Annie Leonard fed Marissa Baker for her third tally of the season at the 4:18 mark.

Tufts knotted the score with 9:44 left on the first-half clock when Claire Trilling tracked down rebound following a save by Middlebury's Abby Furdak, feeding Mary Travers for the goal. The Jumbos carried a 2-1 lead into the half, as Hanaa Malik tallied off a rebound 31 seconds before halftime.

The Panthers took advantage of a penalty corner with 10:49 expired in the second stanza, knotting the score at 2-2. After the insert, Baker passed the ball into the circle to Leonard, who ripped a shot past Polinski. Middlebury cashed in on another penalty corner seven minutes later, with Molly Freeman notching her team-leading seventh goal of the season via an assist from Schweppe.

The one-goal lead was enough for the Panther defense, as the unit didn't allow any type of shot the rest of the game and yielded only one penalty corner in that same time frame.

Furdak made two saves for Middlebury, while Polinski also had a pair in the Jumbo net. The hosts held a 12-8 advantage in shots for the game.