Top-ranked Middlebury saw its 20-game winning streak come to an end, as No. 6 Tufts (12-2, 8-1) scored the game's only goal in the third quarter for a 1-0 NESCAC victory on Saturday in Massachusetts. The contest was a rematch of last year's national championship game, which the Panthers won 2-0. Middlebury (13-1, 8-1) caps the regular season on Tuesday, hosting No. 7 Williams at 6:30 p.m.
Tufts had the best sustained pressure of the two teams in the opening quarter, as the Panthers held off four-consecutive penalty corners by the Jumbos in a span of just 43 seconds. Middlebury goalie Grace Harlan also came up big, stopping all three shots she faced in the frame.
The defenses on both sides carried their strong play into the second stanza with each team getting only one shot. Rachel Hamilton fired a shot wide of the left post on an early penalty corner for Tufts, while Julia Richards fired wide in the closing minutes for the Panthers to keep the game scoreless at the half.
Marguerite Salamone had a bid early in the third quarter for the hosts, but Harlan swatted away the high shot. The Jumbos grabbed the lead with 9:07 showing on the clock, taking advantage of a penalty corner. Salamone centered a pass from the right side of the cage to the goal mouth with Gillian Roeca redirecting the ball into the net for her ninth tally of the fall. It appeared Middlebury tied the score in the final minute, but Emma Johns had her goal waived off following a brief conference by the officials.
In the final 15 minutes, the Panthers earned four penalty corners in the first eight minutes, with Jumbo keeper Andie Stallman stopped Richards's tip of a shot by Erin Nicholas to protect the lead on the final one of that stretch. Middlebury pulled Harlan with 3:02 remaining for an extra field player, but Tufts held the visitors without a shot to secure the one-goal victory.
Harlan finished with five saves for the Panthers, while Stallman registered three for the Jumbos. The hosts held an 11-7 edge in shots and a 9-5 advantage in penalty corners.