Top-seeded Middlebury scored three times in the opening half on its way to a 3-1 triumph over eighth-seeded Trinity (8-8) Saturday in the NESCAC Quarterfinals. The Panthers (15-1) will host the league's championship weekend, facing No. 7 seed Hamilton in the semifinals on Saturday. The other match-up features No. 3 seed Tufts and No. 4 seed Williams.
Middlebury jumped out to the early lead, netting the game's first goal just 1:52 into the contest. Marissa Baker fired a long hit from the right side to the far post, where a diving Katie George directed the pass into the Trinity net for her 10th tally of the fall. Middlebury goalie Grace Harlan gave Middlebury a huge boast with 1:11 left in the opening frame, stopping Jordan Ragland on a penalty stroke.
In the second quarter, the Panthers increased the lead to 3-0, picking up a pair of goals in 55 seconds. Audrey Lazar tucked home a rebound on a shot taken by Baker on a penalty corner with 11:06 on the clock, while Danielle Brown made it a three-goal cushion following a scramble in front of the Bantam cage.
In the third stanza, the visitors needed only 20 seconds to close the margin to two goals, scoring in transition. Caelin Flaherty carried the ball on the right side into the shooting arc, before sending a pass to Kendall Brown on the left side for her team-leading 13th-goal of the fall.
Trinity pressed in the final 15 minutes, recording three penalty corners in the final seven minutes. The Panther defense held its ground, including a stop by Harlan on one of those attempts on a shot by Christine Taylor. On the rebound, Ragland fired another attempt at the Middlebury cage that defender Olivia Green knocked away, keeping the score at 3-1 at the final horn.
Harlan earned the win for the Panthers with five saves, while Emma Cropper finished with nine stops for the Bantams.
Middlebury held a 17-8 advantage in shots, while boasting a 9-4 edge in penalty corners.
The Panthers extended their home-winning streak to 32 games.