Panther Field Hockey Headed to Final Four

Panther Field Hockey Headed to Final Four

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The Middlebury College field hockey team will make its 11th trip to the NCAA final four when it travels to Manheim, Pennsylvania. The championship weekend will take place on Saturday, November 23 and Sunday, November 24 at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex. The Panthers will face Salisbury on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., while Johns Hopkins battles Franklin & Marshall in the other semifinal at 11:00 a.m. The winners will meet in the NCAA Championship game on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are priced at $7 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens each day and will be available at the gate.

Second-ranked Middlebury enters the weekend with an overall record of 43-16 in NCAA Tournament play (20th appearance). The Panthers won NCAA titles in 1998, 2015, 2017 and 2018, while advancing to the finals in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2011.

Middlebury earned its way into the NCAA Tournament with the NESCAC's automatic bid after claiming the league title for the third-straight year and the seventh overall with a 2-1 overtime victory over fourth-ranked Tufts. Last weekend during the regional round, the Panthers edged No. 14 Babson 2-1, before a quick start led to a 4-1 win over ninth-ranked Kean on Kohn Field.

The Panthers enter the championship weekend with a 19-1 record, with their only loss coming to then sixth-ranked Tufts on October 26.

Head coach Katharine DeLorenzo is now in her 19th year, owning a record of 306-62 (.832) at Middlebury and 401-126-2 (.760) overall entering the weekend. She was tabbed as the 2019 NESCAC Coach of the Year, previously winning the honor in 2012, 2017 and 2018. DeLorenzo earned New England Coach of the Year honors in 2003 and 2004, while being deemed the NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year in both 2003 and 2015. DeLorenzo and her coaching staff were named both the 2017 and 2018 NFHCA Coaching Staffs of the Year.

Middlebury is ninth in Division III in goals against average (0.74) and seventh in scoring margin (+2.56). Middlebury paces the NESCAC in goals per game (3.3). The Panthers own a 10-game winning streak in NCAA play and head into next season riding a 34-game winning mark on Kohn Field.

Middlebury has seen 13 different players score goals this season, with 12 of them owning two or more tallies.

Junior Erin Nicholas recently became the first player in NESCAC history to follow up rookie of the year honors with back-to-back player of the year accolades. The 2018 National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) National Player of the Year leads the team with 28 points this season, ranking second in both goals (11) and assists (6). Her goals are in a fourth-place tie among league peers, while her point total is fourth. Nicholas is tied for the league lead with six game-winning goals. She had an eight-game point streak earlier this season, where she recorded 17 points and four game winners. She was a 2018 NCAA All-Tournament selection.

Junior Isabel Chandler has started 40 of 42 games over the past two seasons in the midfield for the Panthers. The recent All-NESCAC selection scored in each of the first two games of the season, earning a goal and an assist in a win at Wesleyan. She is the primary inserter on Middlebury's penalty corners, with her team taking 170 this season, the most in the league.

Joining them in the midfield is senior Emma Johns (6-2-14), who has started 80 of 83 games in her career and scored in the NESCAC Semifinals and Final, as well as Sunday's regional final and is also a 2018 NCAA All-Tournament selection. Also seeing action in the middle of the field is first-year player Audrey Lazar (5-1-11).

At the forward position, senior Marissa Baker is a two-time First-Team All-NESCAC selection and was also a 2018 NCAA All-Tournament honoree. She is third on the squad with 22 points this fall, coming on seven goals and a team-leading eight assists (tied for second in the NESCAC). Baker scored the game-winner goal in overtime of the NESCAC Championship game against Tufts, while recording a tally during the regional final.

Joining her is NESCAC Rookie of the Year and second-team selection Katie George. She leads the Panthers with 12 goals, while ranking second with 27 points to go along with three assists. Her goal total places her third in the NESCAC, while her points are the fifth-best mark. The rookie earned 12 points in her first four collegiate games, including three goals and an assist in a win over University of New England.

Junior Danielle Brown (7-1-15), seniors Julia Richards (2-1-5), who recorded the game-winning goal against Kean, along with Kelly Coyle (5-1-11) and sophomore Grace Murphy (2-2-6) are all contributors up front for the Panthers.

Defensively, seniors Olivia Green, Sophia Peluso, Alison Denby and junior Meg Fearey have patrolled the back line for Middlebury. The four Panthers have helped the team allow just a 0.74 goals per game to rank second in the league. Green has started 59 of 60 games over the past three seasons, while Peluso has started 42-straight contests. Fearey is also a mainstay with starts in 40 of her last 42 games, stepping forward to score a goal and help on another in Sunday's win over Kean. Denby has started all 20 games this season.

Sophomore Grace Harlan has played all 1,218 minutes in goal this season for the Panthers. She is the tied for the NESCAC lead and seventh nationally with a 0.74 goals against average. Harlan owns a .741 save percentage and paces the league in wins (19) and shutouts (7).

2019 NCAA Field Hockey Championship
Saturday, November 23
No. 5 Johns Hopkins (19-2) vs. No. 6 Franklin & Marshall (19-3) – 11:00 a.m.
No. 3 Salisbury (20-1) vs. No. 2 Middlebury (19-1) – 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 24
NCAA Championship – 1:00 p.m.