Panthers Punch Ticket to NCAA Final Four - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Panthers Punch Ticket to NCAA Final Four

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -

Scarlett Kirk scored with just 17 seconds left to lift Middlebury to a 1-0 win over Johns Hopkins in an NCAA Quarterfinal contest in Vermont. The 13th-ranked Panthers advance to the final four for the first time in school history and will meet Trinity of Texas in a semifinal contest at 3:30 p.m. eastern on Friday, December 6th. Matches will take place on Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas. Sixth-ranked Johns Hopkins sees its 11-game winning streak come to an end, finishing the year with a 21-2-1 mark. With the victory, the Panthers improve on their school-best record of 17-1-3, extending their unbeaten streak to 19 games.

The game was played under brutal conditions, with winds of over 25 mph and a temperature of 20 degrees, making the wind chill near zero.

The wind played a major factor in the contest, as the Blue Jays had it at their backs for the first 45 minutes en route to a 9-0 shot advantage at the intermission. Johns Hopkins (JHU) threatened often in the first half, but just two of their nine shots were on goal.

Hannah Kronick and Kelly Baker worked a great give-and-go in the 20th minute, with Kronick unable to handle the return pass with a great look at the goal.

Middlebury's best chance to score in the first half came in the 23rd minute when Jamie Soroka made a nice crossing pass from the left side. Scarlett Kirk was open in the middle, but a nice defensive play by JHU's Adrienne Johnson broke up the threat.

On the other end of the field, Baker had a look in the 30th minute, but her shot earmarked for the top right corner of the net was denied by a diving save from Panther keeper Elizabeth Foody.

The second half saw Middlebury get back into the swing of things, as the wind was now on their side. Julia Favorito made a crossing pass to Carter Talgo on the far post, who saw her shot denied by JHU keeper, Kelly Leddy. The rebound bounced back to Talgo, but Leddy made another stop to keep it a scoreless game in the 51st minute.

Soroko cut 15 yards towards the goal on the left goal line in the 60th minute, but her shot just missed the far post. Only a minute later, Molly Parizeau saw her shot on a corner kick denied by Blue Jay defender Kylie Fuller, as the rebound went to Hannah Robinson. Her follow up attempt  hit the outside of the post, keeping the game scoreless.

On the other end of the field, Kronick had a good look from 20 yards out in the 67th minute, but Foody was up to the task. Three minutes later, she quickly turned and put a good shot at the goal from the 18, but it sailed high.

Middlebury turned up the pressure in the final five minutes of the game, as it appeared the contest was heading for overtime. On their last offensive threat, Favorito touched a challenged ball ahead to Kirk, who had some space from 16 yards out. She quickly turned and ripped a shot into the side of the net to send her team to the final four. The goal was her team-leading 16th of the season and 47th of her career.

JHU held a 14-10 shots advantage in the game, holding a 7-2 lead in corner kicks. Elizabeth Foody finished the contest with four saves to earn her sixth shutout of the season. Leddy earned six stops on the afternoon for the Blue Jays.

Courtesy: Middlebury Athletic Department

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