Third-Ranked Women's Soccer Ties Ithaca, Wins NCAA Regional on PKs

Third-Ranked Women's Soccer Ties Ithaca, Wins NCAA Regional on PKs

Third-ranked Middlebury won an NCAA Regional for the eighth time in program history, as the Panthers (16-1-3) went scoreless for 110 minutes with Ithaca on Sunday at South Street Field, advancing by a 3-0 tally on penalty kicks. The Bombers end their season with a 14-2-4 mark.

Middlebury advances to the NCAA Sectionals where it will host one of four sectional sites. The Panthers will entertain 12th-ranked Swarthmore next Saturday, while the other matchup features sixth-ranked Hardin-Simmons (Texas) and 10th-ranked Misericordia. The winners will play on Sunday in the NCAA Quarterfinal. 

A majority of the first-half play occurred in the midfield. The Bombers greatest chance came on their first shot of the match in the 28th minute when McKensie Galusha's attempt following a free kick went wide left. The Panthers produced a pair of quality scoring chances, with their best opportunity coming in the 31st minute. Eliza Robinson collected a bouncing ball seven yards away on the right, volleying a shot that Ithaca goalkeeper Stacey DiGiorgio punched wide of the near post. 

The second half also had few chances for both sides. The hosts' best look came in the 75th minute when Amanda Dafonte ripped a 20-yard shot from the right that knuckled into the arms of DiGiorgio. Ithaca looked to get on the scoreboard with time winding down after a Middlebury foul. Reid Garner took the free kick, sending a low bouncing attempt from 30 yards out that Panther keeper Ursula Alwang smothered.    

In the first extra session, Middlebury had a chance near the midway point when Alex Barber volleyed a cross on the left post that DiGiorgio caught. Just over a minute later following a Panther foul, a bouncing shot from 40 yards out by Garner was corralled by Alwang on the left post.

The second overtime had a shot from Garner thwarted by Alwang in the first minute. Middlebury had its best opportunity a minute later when Dafonte sent a shot from 15 yards out that DiGiorgio stopped, as the match ended in a scoreless tie.

During penalty kicks, Sara DiCenso, Ellie Greenberg and Cate Shellenback each made their attempts to give the hosts a 3-0 advantage. As she did in the NESCAC Semifinals, Middlebury goalie Eva Shaw came off the bench to face the penalty kicks. She saved an attempt by Ithaca's Brady Lynch on the right side of the net, stopped a bending shot by Sam Robinson and sent the Panthers to the sectional round when she denied Ithaca's Ally Christman on the left post.

In goal for the Panthers, Alwang finished with five saves, while DiGiorgio had nine stops for the Bombers. Middlebury held a 23-6 advantage in shots and took all six corner kicks.

The Panthers are now 20-10 during NCAA play, advancing to the quarterfinals in 1997 and 2011, while taking part in the 2013 final four.