HADLEY, Mass. – After rolling through the regular season with a perfect 10-0 mark, Middlebury has secured the top seed and home field advantage throughout the 2012 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship. The Panthers will be joined by Tufts, Bowdoin and Trinity as quarterfinal round hosts on Saturday. The highest seed following this weekend will earn the right to host both semifinals and the final from November 3-4.
Middlebury (14-0, 10-0 NESCAC) locked up the top seed in this year’s tournament with an impressive 12-0 triumph over Bates on Saturday. Needing just one more win to put the finishing touches on their perfect regular season, the Panthers topped Williams 4-0 this evening. They also went undefeated in NESCAC play in back-to-back seasons from 2003 to 2004. In 2003, Middlebury topped Williams 1-0 to secure its lone conference championship. This season, the Panthers have outscored their opponents 59-5 in league play and have not given up a goal since September 29 at Wesleyan.
Up first for the Panthers will be eighth seeded Connecticut College (7-7, 4-6 NESCAC). The Camels were part of a three-way tie with Williams and Wesleyan for sixth place. All three teams finished with identical 4-6 records and went 1-1 in head-to-head competition. After exhausting all other tiebreaking procedures used by the conference, a random action was needed to separate the teams. Names were drawn out of a hat by league officials to determine finals seedings.
After a one-year hiatus, Connecticut College will be returning to the NESCAC Championship for the sixth time in program history. The Camels fell 5-0 to Middlebury on October 7.
Tufts (13-1, 9-1 NESCAC) earned the second seed with an impressive 3-1 with over Bowdoin tonight. The Jumbos have rattled off 13 straight wins after opening the season with a 5-2 loss to Middlebury. They will open up postseason play against seventh seeded Wesleyan (7-7, 4-6) on Saturday. The teams have met five times in the 12-year history of the tournament, with Tufts holding a 4-1 advantage. All five matchups have taken place in the opening round. Tufts topped the Cardinals en route to their first conference championship in 2009. The Jumbos came out on top 1-0 when the two squads faced off during the second week of the regular season.
Bowdoin’s loss to Tufts this evening snapped an eight-game winning streak that dated back to a 2-1 loss at Middlebury on September 22. The Polar Bears had only given up six goals to NESCAC foes before the Jumbos scored three times tonight. They have been dominant in the postseason, claiming NESCAC titles in each of the last two seasons and six of the last seven. Their record of 21-5 in the championship leads the league.
This year, Bowdoin (12-2, 8-2 NESCAC) will enter the postseason as the third seed and host sixth seeded Williams (6-8, 4-6 NESCAC) in Saturday’s quarterfinal round. The two teams have split six previous games in the tournament, with the last meeting coming in the 2007 semifinals. The Polar Bears won that game 4-1 and blanked the Ephs 3-0 when they squared off on October 7. Williams earned conference crowns in 2001, 2002 and 2004.
The remaining quarterfinal round contest features fourth seeded Trinity (11-3, 7-3 NESCAC) and fifth seeded Amherst (10-4, 6-4 NESCAC). Though neither team has ever won the conference championship, they have each finished as runner-up once. The Bantams picked up a 1-0 win over the Lord Jeffs on October 2. They also came out on top in the only postseason meeting between the two teams, winning 1-0 in the 2008 quarterfinals.
Results for the NESCAC Field Hockey Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.