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National Champs begin new season

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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -

Top-ranked Middlebury fell behind early, but rattled off seven goals in a span of 6:15 and never looked back, cruising to a 19-4 NESCAC victory over Connecticut College in its season-opening contest Sunday on Kohn Field. The Panthers (1-0, 1-0) take to the road for the first time on Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. game at St. Lawrence, while the Camels (0-1, 0-1) host Western Connecticut State on Saturday at 12:00 p.m.

The Camels won the opening draw control and got on the board first when Annie Cornbrooks scored on a bouncing ball following a feed from Hannah Donegan. The score remained that way until nearly four minutes later when the Panthers began their seven-goal run. Hollis Perticone evened the score at 25:39 on an assist from Mary O'Connell, while a tally from Henley Hall gave the hosts the lead for good just under a minute later.

Perticone recorded her second of the game on a hard shot into the upper-right corner of the Camel goal, while O'Connell made it 4-1 in favor of Middlebury on a nice feed from Casey O'Neill with 22:36 left in the opening half. A pair of goals from Emma McDonagh at 21:50 and 19:24 were sandwiched around a tally from Georgia Carroll at the 21:25 mark, giving the hosts a 7-1 advantage.

Connecticut College made it a 7-2 contest when Tina Balzotti bounced a shot through the legs of Middlebury goalie Julia Keith on a quick-stick feed from Julia Loesch.

The score remained a 7-2 Panther advantage over the next few minutes until the hosts rattled off six tallies over a 7:07 stretch. Jenna McNicholas and O'Connell each found the back of the net twice during the run, while Bea Eppler and Emily Barnard also scored for a 13-2 lead with 6:21 left before halftime.

The Camel duo of Balzotti and Loesch made it a 13-3 game on a give-and-go with 4:06 left in the first half, but goals from O'Neill and Barnard gave the Panthers a 12-goal contest at the break.

In the second half, the Panthers slowed the pace and maintained possession for much of the stanza. McDonagh recorded her third goal of the game just 34 seconds into the frame, while O'Connell made the score 17-3 just under two minutes later. Hall and Barnard completed the scoring with goals at 19:17 and 8:32 respectively, while Jamie Navoni tallied for the Camels for the 19-4 score.

O'Connell led all players with four goals and four assists for Middlebury, while McNicholas (2-2-4) and McDonagh (3-1-4) both produced four-point efforts. O'Neill (1-2-3), Barnard (3-0-3) and Hall (2-1-3) each had three-point games for the Panthers, while Evie Keating had a nice all-around game with four ground balls and three caused turnovers. Susanna Baker paced the hosts with three draw controls.

Balzotti scored twice to lead the Camels, while Blair Rose scooped up three ground balls and Kater Bermingham had three draw controls.

Keith got the start in the crease for the Panthers and earned her first collegiate win, tallying two saves in the first half. Kate Furber started the second half and didn't record a stat in 16:16 of play, while Alex Freedman logged the final 13:44 with a goal allowed and a save. Meghan Raskin produced three saves in the first half, while Megan Mullin played the final half with five saves for the Camels. Middlebury held a 30-9 advantage in shots and an 18-11 edge in ground balls.

Courtesy: Middlebury Athletics

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