MIDDLEBURY, Vt. The Middlebury field hockey team has advanced to the NCAA final four for the third time in the last four years and ninth time overall after a 5-0 victory over 14th-ranked Rochester on Sunday in an NCAA regional final on Kohn Field. Middlebury (18-2), playing in its eighth-straight NCAA quarterfinal, will meet 10th-ranked Franklin & Marshall on Friday in a national semifinal at 7:00 p.m. on the campus of Bellarmine in Louisville, Kentucky. The other semifinal features top-ranked Messiah and third-ranked The College of New Jersey playing at 4:00 p.m. Friday's winners will advance to play in the NCAA Championship on Sunday at the University of Louisville's Trager Stadium beginning at 5:00 p.m. Rochester concludes its season at 18-4.
Middlebury had a handful of scoring opportunities in the opening half, but Rochester goalie Kiran Sundaram produced seven saves. Defender Colleen Maillie had three defensive saves and Courtney Dunham recorded one to keep the visitors in the contest. The best early scoring chance for the Panthers came on a penalty stroke at the 9:30 mark, but Sundaram dove to her left and denied an opportunity with her blocker by Annie Leonard.
Middlebury broke the scoreless tie with just 28 seconds left before the halftime break. Erin Nicholas sent an aerial from 30 yards away that found the stick of Julia Richards. She collected the ball, made a quick move to her left and put the shot between Sundaram's pads for her seventh goal of the season. Middlebury outshot Rochester by a 12-1 count in the opening half.
Following the break, Rochester's best scoring chance came in the 38th minute on a penalty corner, but Maillie's shot from the top of the circle sailed wide. The Panthers pulled away with four goals in a span of just over 23 minutes. Marissa Baker doubled the advantage, jumping on a loose ball from seven yards out for her ninth tally this fall. Audrey Quirk gave Middlebury a three-goal lead with her fifth goal of the season, lofting a ball on a penalty corner from the left doorstep, following a pass from Lauren Schweppe.
Annie Leonard increased the Panther lead to four when she tipped in a pass across the crease from Emma Johns at the 61:37 mark for her 16th goal of the season, while Emma Johns capped the scoring in the 66th minute for the final 5-0 score.
Middlebury held a 23-5 advantage in shots and a 9-4 edge in penalty corners. Middlebury goalie Abby Furdak didn't record a save en route to her sixth shutout this season, while Sundaram was credited with eight stops for the Yellowjackets.
Courtesy: Middlebury Athletics