MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College field hockey team won the NESCAC playoff title at Amherst this past weekend and was named the host of one of four NCAA Division III regionals this coming weekend.
The 15-2 Panthers will be making their 11th consecutive and 14th overall appearance in the NCAA tournament this weekend. At 11 a.m. on Saturday they will take on the winner of a Wednesday game between Castleton and Utica.
At 2 p.m. on Saturday, Skidmore will battle the winner of another Wednesday first-round game between Gordon and Keene State. The winners will meet on Sunday at 1 p.m. with a trip to the final four on Nov. 16 and 17 in Virginia Beach, Va., at stake.
On this past Sunday at Amherst, the Panthers edged Bowdoin (14-3) in the NESCAC final, 5-4, when Alyssa DiMaio netted the game winner 2:15 into overtime. Her goal completed Middlebury’s rally from a 4-2 second-half deficit in the final 10:26 of regulation. Bridget Instrum scored four goals, two in a span of 2:07 late in the second half to tie the game.
Bowdoin took the lead less than five minutes after the opening whistle on a penalty corner. Colleen Finnerty ripped a shot that was blocked, but Rachel Kennedy hammered home the rebound at 4:56.
Just 1:20 later, the Polar Bears made it 2-0. Katie Riley put a shot on target, and Emily Simonton sent the rebound past Middlebury goalkeeper Emily Knapp.
In the 16th minute, Instrum put a rebound of a Katherine Theiss shot past Bowdoin netminder Hannah Gartner.
The Panthers equalized on a penalty corner in the 25th minute, with Instrum converting a give-and-go with Elinore O’Brien.
Riley restored the Polar Bear lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, and Finnerty made it 4-2 with 28:00 left in regulation by converting a penalty stroke.
Two Bowdoin defensive saves protected that lead, but Instrum backhanded the ball home on a penalty corner at 10:26 to make it 4-3. Just 2:07 later, Instrum struck again, putting away her fourth marker after collecting a loose ball in front.
Early in overtime, Middlebury won a penalty corner. Catherine Fowler fed DiMaio on the back post, and she slapped home the game winner while going to the ground.
Middlebury finished with a 12-10 shot advantage and an 11-3 edge in corners. Knapp made five saves in the win, while Gartner finished with three stops. Bowdoin earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney.
This past Saturday, the Panthers knocked off regular-season champion Amherst, 1-0. Pam Schulman’s goal in the 59th minute, set up by Fowler’s strong run and pass, proved to be the difference, and defender Meredith Rowe made a key defensive save.
The Panthers held edges of 9-5 in shots and 7-5 in corners. Knapp made two saves, while the Panthers forced the Jeffs’ goalie to stop five shots.