Nicholas’ OT Goal Lifts Top-Ranked Panthers Past #3 Tufts

Erin Nicholas scored the game-winning tally 1:12 into Saturday's overtime.
Erin Nicholas scored the game-winning tally 1:12 into Saturday's overtime.

Middlebury's Erin Nicholas scored with 1:12 elapsed in overtime, lifting top-ranked Middlebury (10-0, 6-0) to a 2-1 home victory over third-ranked Tufts (8-1, 5-1) Saturday on Kohn Field. The victory extends the Middlebury winning streak to 26-straight games, and also gives the Panthers sole possession of first place in the NESCAC standings. Middlebury returns to action on Tuesday with a 6:30 p.m. start at Rensselaer, while the third-ranked Jumbos host Wellesley on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.

In a game where scoring chances were hard to come by, the hosts got on the board just four minutes into the contest as part of a penalty corner. Isabel Chandler inserted to stopper Grace Jennings at the top of the arc, leaving the ball for Marissa Baker, who blasted a hard shot just inside the left post for her second goal of the year.

The Jumbos nearly tied the contest nearly 23 minutes into play when Hanaa Malik drove toward the goal, but Middlebury goalie Megan Collins came off her goal line to challenge the attempt for her lone save of the game. On a Tufts penalty corner seconds later, Fallon Shaughnessy connected with Beth Krikorian, rifling a shot to the left side of the goal for her fifth tally of the season.

The visitors nearly took the lead on a penalty corner with no time left on the clock, but Middlebury's Olivia Green made a nice defensive save on a shot from Krikorian headed toward the right post.

In the second stanza, the best opportunity to score came from Middlebury when Emma Johns collected a loose ball eight yards away, but her shot went just wide left with nine minutes left.

Just a minute into the overtime period where both teams had seven players, Nicholas gathered a loose ball near midfield on the right side. She weaved her way through Jumbo defenders, firing a hard shot from right to left that Tufts goalie Emily Polinski got a piece of with her pads, but it trickled into the back of the cage. The goal was Nicholas' sixth of the year.

Middlebury finished with a narrow 7-6 edge in shots, while Tufts held an 11-4 advantage in penalty corners, including all six in the second half. Polinski finished with three saves for the Jumbos.