Late Goal Lifts Panthers Past Colonials in NCAA First Round

Virginia Charman scored the game winner on Saturday (Photo courtesy of MIT Athletics).
Virginia Charman scored the game winner on Saturday (Photo courtesy of MIT Athletics).

Seventeenth-ranked Middlebury posted a 1-0 victory over Western Connecticut State (17-2-2) in an NCAA first-round game on Saturday at MIT. The Panthers improve to 12-3-2 and will play the host school on Sunday in the regional final at 1:00 p.m.

Middlebury's best chance of the opening half came at the 27:03 mark. Alex Barber directed a free kick from the left corner to Alissa Huntington, whose header was denied by a diving save from Western Connecticut keeper Jillian Fernandez.

Both teams had chances later in the half, but the crossbar got in the way. In the 20th minute, Middlebury's Eliza Van Voorhis ricocheted one off of it, while Charman followed with one of her own in the 33rd minute. Western Connecticut nearly took a 1-0 lead with 13-seconds left on the first half clock, but Ashley Cross' shot found the crossbar and not the net.

The game-winning goal came with just 7:06 remaining in regulation. Clare Robinson sent the ball across the field to Barber, who played the ball on a one touch directly to Charman, before she fired the ball into the upper-left corner of the net. The goal was Charman's team-leading sixth of the season, while the helper was the sixth of the year for Barber, also a team high.

Over the final 45 minutes of action, Middlebury held Western Connecticut to just three shots on net. Western Connecticut made one final push at an equalizer, but Autumn Sorice's shot with 4:23 to play rattled off the crossbar and back into play.

Ursula Alwang recorded five stops to earn her sixth shutout of the season, while Fernandez had eight saves in goal for the Colonials. Middlebury held a 19-9 shots advantage.