Second-ranked Middlebury scored four goals in each half, en route to an 8-0 triumph over Keene State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday. The Panthers (18-1) advance to Sunday's regional final, where they will face The College of New Jersey at 1:00 p.m. on Kohn Field. The Owls cap their season with a record of 18-7.
Middlebury got off to a fast start, opening the scoring 6:58 into the contest. Erin Nicholas carried the ball into the arc from the right side and swept a shot past Keene State goalie Rachel Loseby for a 1-0 Panther lead. The hosts doubled the advantage with 21:26 showing on the clock, as Grace Jennings placed her stick flat on the turf to redirect a pass from Nicholas into the cage.
The lead grew to 3-0 near the midway point when Emma Johns fired in her eighth goal of the season from the right side on a play that started on a penalty corner. Nicholas tallied from the right side with 9:40 left before the half.
Middlebury added to the lead in the second stanza, scoring with 7:06 expired. Nicholas directed the ball on goal with a shot from the right side that Alison Denby knocked into the cage for a 5-0 cushion.
The visitors had their best chance to get onto the scoreboard minutes later with a penalty corner, but Erica Stauffer's shot from the right side was kicked aside by Panther goalie Megan Collins.
The hosts made it a six-goal difference, when Jennings drove to the net from the left wing and slid a shot past Loseby from close range. Julia Richards upped the advantage with a redirection of a shot from Kelly Coyle with just under 10 minutes remaining, while Amanda Bozorgi closed out the scoring with a flip shot over Loseby's outstretched arms on a penalty corner with 6:31 left.
Collins earned her seventh shutout of the season for the Panthers with one save, while Loseby made 11 stops for the Owls.
Middlebury held a 31-2 advantage in shots and took seven of the game's eight penalty corners.