Behind a goal in the second overtime from junior Annie Leonard (Darien, Conn.) on a penalty stroke, the Middlebury field hockey team earned a 3-2 home win over #18 Amherst (2-2, 0-2) Saturday afternoon at Kohn Field.
Second-ranked Middlebury was first to strike in the fourth minute on a penalty corner. After the insert was stopped at the top of the circle, Leonard blasted a low, hard shot that was redirected off the stick of junior Lauren Schweppe (Chester Springs, Pa.) for her first of the season at 3:12.
The score remained a one-goal edge for the hosts until a little less than seven minutes later. Amherst’s Mary Margaret Stoll collected a loose ball just inside the arc and dribbled from the left to right. Stoll snuck her shot just past the leg of Middlebury senior goalkeeper Emily Miller (Winston-Salem, N.C.) at 9:54 to knot the contest, 1-1.
The ensuing 16 minutes saw little action before Leonard put the Panthers ahead at the 25:56 mark. Following an Amherst infraction inside the arc, Middlebury was awarded a penalty stroke. Leonard rifled a hard shot that tucked inside the left post, giving Middlebury a 2-1 lead.
Amherst turned up the offensive pressure out of the halftime break, keeping the play mostly in their offensive end looking for the equalizer. The Purple & White tied the game at 2-2 when Sara Culhane corralled a loose ball just inside the Middlebury arc, sneaking a low shot just past Miller’s pad at 37:21.
The visitors nearly took the lead in the 46th minute when Elizabeth Turnbull found space behind the Panther defense on the break, but a sliding save by Miller kept the game tied at 2-2. A little more than four minutes later, Miller had a pair of saves on Amherst back-to-back penalty corners.
After a scoreless first 15-minute overtime period of seven-on-seven play, Miller rushed out to cut down the angle and took away a breakaway scoring chance in the 90th minute by Turnbull, forcing the Amherst player to send a shot wide to the left.
Middlebury sent a long ball forward to Leonard, who drew a foul and ensuing penalty stroke at 96:54. Leonard lifted a high shot into the upper-right corner of the cage for the victory. The goal was her team-leading sixth of the fall.
Amherst held a slim advantage in both shots (18-15) and penalty corners (13-11). Emily Horwitz recorded 11 saves for Amherst, while Miller finished the game with a season-best eight saves in the winning effort.
• Field Hockey record: 3-0
• Up next: 9/24 vs. Bowdoin – 12:00 p.m., 9/25 at Hamilton – 12:00 p.m.