Middlebury Set to Host NESCAC Field Hockey Championship

Middlebury Set to Host NESCAC Field Hockey Championship

HADLEY, Mass. – Top-seeded Middlebury will host the remaining rounds of the 2017 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship this weekend at Kohn Field for the first time since 2012. The semifinal contests are a rematch of two quarterfinal games from the 2016 championship. Middlebury faces seventh-seeded Bowdoin in the first semifinal game on Saturday, November 4 at 11 a.m. The second semifinal contest features No. 5 Trinity and No. 3 Williams at 1:30 p.m. The winners will advance to the NESCAC Championship on Sunday at noon with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

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Middlebury (14-2, 9-1 NESCAC) is the No. 1 seed for the fourth time in program history and the first time since 2012. The Panthers advanced to their seventh straight semifinal with a 4-1 win over No. 8 Bates in the quarterfinal round. Last year’s runner-up, Middlebury is looking to advance to the championship game for the seventh straight season in its quest to win its first NESCAC title since 2014. Senior Annie Leonard (Darien, Conn.) and junior Grace Jennings (Ghent, N.Y.) have combined for 59 points to fuel the top offense in the conference. Jennings has a team-high 12 assists (leads the NESCAC) to go with nine goals for 30 points, while Leonard has scored a team-leading 11 goals and added seven assists for 29 points. The Middlebury defense has allowed 19 goals on the season and first-year goalkeeper Abby Furdak (Wellesley, Mass.) has 11 of Middlebury’s victories to her credit. The Panthers are riding a 10-game win streak heading into the semifinal matchup with No. 7 Bowdoin (10-6, 5-5 NESCAC).

The Polar Bears scored twice in the second half to erase a 1-0 deficit at No. 2 Tufts in the quarterfinals. Bowdoin is the third No. 7 seed in NESCAC Championship history to advance to the semifinals and is in the semifinals for the 12th time in 13 years. The Polar Bears, who own eight NESCAC Championships, are looking to make the final for the seventh time in eight seasons. Sophomore Kara Finnerty (Hopkinton, Mass.) leads the Polar Bears with 16 points and seven goals. Classmate Emma Stevens (Darien, Conn.) and junior Elizabeth Bennewitz (Westport, Conn.) who each scored a goal to lift the Polar Bears past the Jumbos, rank 2-3 in scoring with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

Bowdoin owns a slight 5-4 advantage over Middlebury in the NESCAC tournament series, and the two teams have met seven times in the championship game. The Panthers defeated Bowdoin, 2-0, in the last NESCAC postseason meeting during the 2016 quarterfinals and 1-0 in the regular season matchup on September 23 in Brunswick, Maine.

Third-seeded Williams (12-4, 6-4 NESCAC) is making back-to-back trips to the semifinals for the first time since the 2004 and 2005 seasons. The Ephs are on the hunt for their first title since 2004. Williams is 8-2 over its last 10 games, including a 4-2 victory over No. 6 Amherst in the quarterfinals. Senior Alex Bennett (Rye, N.Y.) netted a hat trick to lead the Ephs to the win. Bennett is tied with teammate Libby Dolan (Barrington, R.I.) for the team lead in points (39, 2nd in the NESCAC) and has recorded 11 assists. Dolan has netted a team-leading 17 goals, including five game-winning tallies, to go along with five assists.
 
The fifth-seeded Trinity Bantams (11-5, 5-5 NESCAC) stand in the way of the Ephs. After starting the season 1-4, the Bantams are 10-1 in their last 11 games. Trinity earned its first trip to the semifinals since 2014 with a 3-1 win over No. 4 Hamilton. Senior Kelcie Finn (Weymouth, Mass.) scored two goals and assisted on the third to lead the Bantams. Finn has scored 23 goals, including six game-winners, and added seven assists to lead the Bantams and the NESCAC in scoring with 53 points. Senior Lori Berger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) is one of the top goalkeepers in the conference with a .795 goals against average and is tied with Middlebury’s Furdak in wins with 11.

Trinity, which is the first No. 5 seed to advance to the semifinals since 2014, owns a 3-1 edge over Williams in the postseason series. The Bantams fell to the Ephs, 5-0, in last year’s quarterfinal round and Williams defeated Trinity, 3-2, in Hartford in the 2017 season opener.

All three games will be webcast on the NESCAC Championship page via Northeast Sports Network. Results for the NESCAC Field Hockey Championship will be available at the end of each day at NESCAC.com. Also follow the NESCAC on Twitter (@NESCAC) for more in-game updates.