The Middlebury field hockey team advanced to the NESCAC Championship game for the seventh-straight year, as the Panthers downed Bowdoin 5-2 Saturday on Kohn Field. Top-seeded Middlebury (15-2), which extended its winning streak to 11 games, hosts fifth-seeded Trinity on Sunday at noon with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bantams earned a spot in the finals with a 3-2 overtime triumph over third-seeded Williams.
The second-ranked Panthers opened the scoring early, getting on the scoreboard 1:24 into the contest. Annie Leonard tipped in a pass from Kelly Coyle from close range for her team-leading 12th tally of the fall. The hosts doubled the lead with 26:50 on the clock, as Molly Freeman dribbled the ball into the arc on right side and delivered a perfect pass to Grace Jennings at the left post for an easy tap in. The goal marked the fifth-straight game Jennings has scored.
Seventh-seeded and 16th-ranked Bowdoin (10-7) responded with a goal with 18:30 on the clock, taking advantage of a penalty corner. Abby Bashaw inserted the ball to Elizabeth Bennewitz, who blasted a shot from the top of the circle to make it a 2-1 game. Middlebury scored late for a 3-1 advantage at the half when Erin Nicholas tucked in a pass from Jennings.
The Polar Bears closed the gap to 3-2 with 7:58 expired in the second half when Juliana Fiore carried the ball up the right side and sent a long cross to the front of the Panther net. Emma Stevens redirected the pass into the cage for her ninth tally of the season.
Middlebury finished the game strong, scoring twice in the last 10 minutes with both goals coming off the stick of Freeman. The first score came with 6:23 on the clock when she knocked in a centering pass from Coyle, while the second came 4:18 later on a feed from Nicholas, making the final 5-2.
Middlebury goalie Abby Furdak earned the win with two saves, while Maddie Ferrucci had four stops in front of the Bowdoin net. The Panthers held a 13-8 advantage in shots.
During the regular season, the Panthers edged the Polar Bears 1-0 in double overtime.