Nicholas’ Late Goal Shoots #1 Field Hockey Past #5 Babson

Erin Nicholas scored the game-winning tally with 4:30 left on Sunday.
Erin Nicholas scored the game-winning tally with 4:30 left on Sunday.

Middlebury's Erin Nicholas scored with 4:30 left in the second half, lifting top-ranked Middlebury (7-0) to a 2-1 home victory Sunday over fifth-ranked Babson (7-2).  Middlebury returns to action on the road Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. against Skidmore, while the Beavers are home the same day for a 6:00 p.m. contest with Bates.

The visitors got off to a fast start, controlling much of the play in the opening minutes. Babson took advantage of that momentum, scoring 8:39 into the contest. Ashley Tango dribbled from right to left inside the arc, blasting a shot that tucked just inside the left post from eight yards away. The tally was Tango's fifth of the season.

Middlebury knotted the score at 1-1 nearly four minutes later. Danielle Brown worked her way toward the left side of the Beaver goal, spinning around before firing a shot that found the left side of the cage at the 12:18 mark. The goal was Brown's sixth of the fall.

The Panthers nearly doubled the score with just under 10 minutes left. As part of a penalty corner, Julia Richards had her scoring attempt from the right side padded away by Babson goalie Cassidy Riley.

In the second half, Middlebury attempted to take the lead again at the 46:33 mark, but a shot on a penalty corner by Emma Johns was saved by Riley using her helmet. With just under 16 minutes left in the contest, Babson looked to regain the lead when Millie Brady had her attempt from eight yards away denied by Panther goalie Megan Collins' left pad.

The Panthers tallied the game-winning score on a great individual effort from Nicholas. She gathered a loose ball around the midfield stripe, dribbled through Babson defenders before lifting a shot from the right over the right shoulder of Riley from eight yards away. The goal came with 4:30 left and was Nicholas' sixth of the year.

The hosts were able to burn off the final minutes of the contest for the one-goal victory.

Between the pipes for the Panthers, Collins had two saves to improve to 7-0. For the Beavers, Riley (7-2) finished with six saves. Middlebury posted an 18-6 advantage in shots and a 14-2 margin in penalty corners, including 7-0 in the first half.

Sunday's contest against Babson marked the fourth-straight nationally-ranked opponent for the Panthers.