MIDDLEBURY, Vt. Third-ranked Middlebury extended its winning streak to 16 games, as the Panthers advanced to the NESCAC Championship contest with an 11-5 victory over 11th-ranked Amherst on Saturday. Middlebury (16-1), the top seed and host of the tournament, will take on Tufts, an 11-8 winner over Wesleyan, in the title game Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Amherst fell to 12-5 with the loss and will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Emma McDonagh opened the scoring for the Panthers, creating the chance on her own. She intercepted a Mammoth clearing attempt, headed straight to the cage and the fired a shot past keeper Talia Land with 2:51 expired. The Panthers extended the margin to 3-0 when Emily Barnard and Sara DiCenso scored just over a minute apart, with both goals coming after the players scooped up loose balls at the top of the crease.
The hosts made it a four-goal difference with 10:32 on the clock, as McDonagh fed Barnard off a free-position attempt as the shot clock expired. Erin Nicholas made it a 5-0 contest, before Amherst got on the board with a low shot from Isabelle Sennett with 8:09 remaining. Barnard made a nice move on the circle and used a low shot to beat Land in the closing minutes, giving Middlebury a 6-1 lead at the half.
In the second stanza, the Panthers scored on the first possession of the frame when Barnard sent a feed to the front of the net and Henley Hall converted with 39 seconds expired. Kirsten Murphy used a nifty underhand pass to Jenna McNicholas minutes later, pushing the margin to 8-1. Back-to-back tallies by Nicholas and McDonagh made it a 10-1 score, before the Mammoths received a free-position goal from Hannah Fox with 12:24 showing on the clock.
Dani DiTommaso and Leah Ritterband tallied 23 seconds apart in the late stages of the game, cutting the deficit to 10-4 with 5:44 to play. Barnard cashed in on a feed from Murphy with 4:33 remaining for the hosts, while the Mammoths capped the scoring on a score Maia Noyes in the final minute for the 11-5 final.
Barnard led all players with four goals and an assist, while McDonagh chipped in with two goals and a helper. Alex White and Emma White spearheaded the defense with four caused turnovers apiece, while Nicholas snared five draw controls and Addy Mitchell collected five ground balls, giving her an even 100 for her career. Julia Keith (14-1) earned the win, finishing with six saves.
The Mammoths received single goals from five different players, with Fox scoring once and getting a team-high four ground balls. Sabrina Solow caused three turnovers and had three ground balls. Land (12-5) had solid game with 14 saves and four ground balls.
Middlebury's defense held an opponent to single digits for the 12-straight game and through two games of the NESCAC Tournament, have yielded just seven goals.
Courtesy: Middlebury Athletics