Panthers Earn Tight NESCAC Road Win at Wesleyan

Julia Keith made some key saves down the stretch.
Julia Keith made some key saves down the stretch.

Middlebury earned a hard-fought 8-7 road win at #12 Wesleyan (4-1, 2-1) Saturday afternoon on Smith Field. The sixth-ranked Panthers (3-1, 2-1) return to action next Saturday when they visit Bowdoin.

Trailing 1-0, Middlebury struck for three-straight goals to go up 3-1 at the 16:16 mark. Casey O'Neill opened the scoring with a low shot after a pass from Grace Getman. Emily Barnard found the back of the net with a high shot, before Jenna McNicholas scored a quick-stick goal in a dish from Sara DiCenso.

Wesleyan answered before Nicholas struck again, this time beating a defender to put her team up 4-2 with an extra player with 13:19 remaining in the first half. The Cardinals netted the final two goals of the half, knotting the game at 4-4 at the intermission.

Wesleyan came out firing in the second half, with three-straight goals to go up 7-6 with 19:57 on the clock. Barnard took a quick pass from Nicholas and tied the game 2:01 later. The game-winner came with 5:00 left, as Emma McDonagh drove from the left side and converted a free-position shot for the 8-7 lead.

Julia Keith made a couple big saves down the stretch, but the Cardinals had the ball trailing by one in the final minute. DiCenso broke up a pass and picked up the ground ball with 30 seconds remaining, as Middlebury emerged with the win.

Barnard, McNicholas and McDonagh each finished with two goals for the Panthers. Addy Mitchell caused six turnovers and picked up four ground balls to pace the defense. Keith finished the contest with eight saves in 50 minutes of action.

Abigail Horst led all scorers with three goals, while Sydney Prokupek added a pair for the Cardinals. Jordan Ansell caused three turnovers, Breanna Cavanaugh finished with four ground balls, while Abby Manning won seven draws. Allegra Grant ended the contest with six saves in goal.

Middlebury won the ground ball battle 20-14, but Wesleyan held a 12-5 edge in draw controls. McDonagh extended her point streak to 31 games.