Middlebury Blanks UNE to Advance in NCAA Play

Annie Leonard recorded a goal and an assist in the win.
Annie Leonard recorded a goal and an assist in the win.

Second-ranked Middlebury posted a 5-0 victory over 19th-ranked University of New England in an NCAA second-round game on Saturday. The Panthers (17-2) advance to Sunday's regional final, where they will meet Rochester, a 2-1 winner over Husson, at 1:00 p.m. on Kohn Field. The Nor'easters end their season with an 18-5 record.

Middlebury got on the board first, when Grace Jennings carried the ball down the left side of the field and found the back of the cage at the 8:55 mark.

The Nor'easters had an opportunity to tie the game with an extra attacker in the 27th minute. After a penalty corner, a scramble in front of the Panther goal forced goalie Abby Furdak off her line, but UNE's Vonde Saunders' shot was blocked by a Middlebury defender.

The Panthers made it a 2-0 game at the 28:12 mark when Erin Nicholas centered a pass to Julia Richards whose shot slipped past UNE's goalie Liz Sargent.

The hosts tacked on three more goals in a 3:24 span. Nicholas beat a UNE defender and hit a hard shot from the right side that tucked inside the far post. Just 1:01 later, Middlebury scored on a penalty corner. Jennings stopped an insert from Audrey Quirk, before Annie Leonard lofted a shot into the upper-left corner of the cage, for her team-leading 15th goal of the season.

The Panthers capped the scoring with 13 seconds remaining in the first half with an extra player. After a penalty corner, Leonard sent a pass to Lauren Schweppe, who found the back of the cage to make it a 5-0 game.

The second half featured a lot of midfield play, with each team generating just one shot, as Middlebury picked up the 5-0 victory.

Furdak earned her fifth shutout of the season with one save, while Sargent had one stop for the Nor'easters. The Panthers finished with a 12-4 advantage in shots. Middlebury extended its winning streak to 13 games, moving to 34-16 in NCAA play.