#1 Field Hockey Opens Season With Wins Over Conn. College, Smith

Annie Leonard scored all three goals in the opening half of Sunday's victory.
Annie Leonard scored all three goals in the opening half of Sunday's victory.

Top-ranked Middlebury opened its season with two victories last weekend. The Panthers started the season with a 3-0 NESCAC road victory over Connecticut College Saturday afternoon. Middlebury completed the perfect weekend, opening the home portion of its schedule Sunday with a 5-1 victory over Smith.

On Saturday against the Camels with under 10 minutes left in the opening half, Middlebury’s first goal of the season came at the 25:30 mark when sophomore Molly Freeman (North Kingstown, R.I.) redirected a pass in front of the goal from junior Annie Leonard (Darien, Conn.).

The Panthers struck again a little more than a minute later at 26:39, when Leonard scored on a shot from the left side of the arc via a pass from sophomore Susanna Baker (Rowayton, Conn.). Middlebury took the two-goal advantage into the break, limiting the Camels to just one shot in the opening half.

Less than two minutes of the intermission, the visitors struck for their third goal when sophomore Grace Jennings (Ghent, N.Y.) collected a loose ball in front of the net.

Panther senior goalie Emily Miller (Winston-Salem, N.C.) made one save in goal to earn the win for her first shutout this season and ninth of her career, while Ryley van der Velde made five saves for the Camels. Middlebury finished with a 10-4 advantage in penalty corners.

In Sunday’s home-opening win, Middlebury jumped out to an early lead in the sixth minute when Leonard found the back of the cage for the first of her three goals at the 5:57 mark. She redirected an initial shot by Freeman from the right side. A little less than eight minutes later at 13:48, Leonard made it a two-goal lead when she lofted in a crossing attempt by Baker.

The score remained that way until the 25th minute when Leonard completed the hat trick. The third-year Panther scored as a part of a penalty corner following a pinpoint pass from junior Caroline Knapp (Scarsdale, N.Y.), as the Panthers took a 3-0 edge into the intermission.

Following the halftime break, Jennings made it a 4-0 contest at 37:27 when she dribbled down the left side, sending a shot that pinged off the far post and into the Pioneer goal.

Smith tallied its lone goal just under four minutes later at the 41:21 mark when Sophie Grace batted the ball out of the air for her first of the season. Julia Hamilton’s initial shot from just inside the arc was saved by Miller, but the ensuing rebound went up into the air and was swatted by Grace.

Baker concluded the scoring with her first goal of the fall for Middlebury at 54:18, providing the final four-goal advantage.

Middlebury finished with an 18-3 shots advantage in the contest, while holding a 12-2 edge in penalty corners. Miller recorded a save in front of the Panther goal, while Cameo Tietje tallied five stops for the Pioneers.

• Field Hockey record: 2-0
• Up next: 9/17 vs. Amherst – 11:00 a.m.