Middlebury Posts 5-2 Victory Over Lebanon Valley in NCAA Field Hockey Tournament

Courtesy Middlebury Athletic Communications

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Middlebury's Chase Delano scored three goals to lead the Panther field hockey team to a 5-2 victory over Lebanon Valley in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday at Bowdoin College. The Panthers (14-3) advance to play the host Polar Bears in Sunday's Regional Final in a rematch of the 2007 National Championship game. Delano's three goals improve her season total to 26, setting a new Middlebury single-season record.

Middlebury was the first to score Saturday, as Mullery Doar charged down the right wing and played a perfect crossing ball to Chase Delano to give the Panthers the lead just 6:50 into the game. A flurry of action later in the period saw the teams exchange great opportunities, but defensive saves by Middlebury's Emily Blair and Lebanon Valley's Krista Freitag kept it a one-goal contest. Late in the half, Lebanon Valley's Danielle Blase finished off a strong run to the goal by tucking the ball inside the left post to deadlock the game just 11 seconds before halftime.

Middlebury responded immediately after the break, however, exploding for three goals in the first 11 minutes of the frame. Allison Grant finished off a scrum in front of the net just 1:50 into the period and, less than four minutes later, centered a perfectly-placed pass to Sophie Thompson, who buried it into the cage to give Middlebury a 3-1 lead. Delano finished off a pass from Dana Heritage at 45:13 to give the Panthers a 4-1 advantage.

Lebanon Valley cut into Middlebury's lead with a goal from Shelly Lobach at 47:46, and made a bid to cut it to a one-goal game just seconds later. But a shot from the wing by Alex Wolfe was stopped on the doorstep by Middlebury's Liz Garry. The Panthers got an insurance goal from Delano with under three minutes to play to seal the win.

Middlebury out-shot Lebanon Valley 28-15, including a 19-7 advantage in the second half. Caitlin Pentifallo stopped five shots for the Panthers, while Caitlin Baro made 15 stops for the Dutchmen.

Middlebury's Sunday opponent will be a familiar one, as it will be the sixth meeting in the past two seasons between the Polar Bears and Panthers. The teams have met twice already this season, with Bowdoin earning a 2-0 regular season win on October 4 and a 4-0 victory last weekend in the NESCAC Semifinals. Bowdoin won a thrilling NCAA Division III Championship game against Middlebury last fall, taking a 4-3 decision.

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