HADLEY, Mass. - Middlebury, the defending NESCAC Champion, powered through the conference schedule to earn the No. 1 seed in the 2018 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship. The Panthers will have home field advantage throughout the tournament. The NESCAC Championship begins with quarterfinal action on Saturday, October 27 with Tufts, Williams, and Hamilton also hosting opening round games. The highest remaining seed will host the semifinals and championship game on November 3-4.
Middlebury (14-1, 9-1 NESCAC) is the top seed for the second consecutive season and sixth time in program history. The Panthers earned the No. 1 seed by virtue of a 2-1 victory over Tufts in overtime, on October 6 in the regular season. Middlebury has appeared in all 18 NESCAC Championships and advanced to the finals seven straight years, claiming five titles, including last year’s crown. The Panthers possess a potent offense, averaging a league-best 4.6 goals per game. Middlebury will host No. 8 Colby in the opening game of its quest to repeat as NESCAC Champion. Colby (9-6, 4-6 NESCAC) grabbed the final spot in the tournament field with a 1-0 victory over Bates in the regular season finale. The Mules are making their first appearance in the NESCAC Championship field since 2014, and are looking for their first NESCAC postseason victory since 2004. Middlebury owns a 3-0 advantage over Colby in the NESCAC Championship series. The two teams last met in the 2014 quarterfinals with Middlebury winning 4-1. The Panthers also posted a 4-1 win at Colby on September 29 during the regular season.
Tufts (14-1, 9-1 NESCAC) is the No. 2 seed for the second straight season and will host a quarterfinal game for the fourth year in a row. The Jumbos own two NESCAC titles, winning a championship in 2009 and 2016. The Jumbos own the best defense in the conference, sporting a 0.56 goals against average. Tufts has won six straight games, five by shutout, heading into the tournament. The Jumbos are seeking their first semifinal appearance since 2016 when they host No. 7 Amherst (10-5, 5-5 NESCAC). The Mammoths are the seventh seed after a 2-0 loss to Trinity in the regular season finale. Amherst is in the tournament field for the 13th straight season and is the No. 7 seed for the first time since 2002. The Jumbos defeated the Mammoths, 1-0, in the 2014 quarterfinals in the only meeting between the two teams in NESCAC Tournament play. Tufts edged Amherst, 3-2 in overtime, at Tufts on September 29.
Hamilton, Trinity, and Bowdoin all finished with identical conference records of 6-4. In the tiebreakers used to determine seeds four through six, Hamilton, Trinity and Bowdoin went 1-1 against each other in head-to-head competition. In comparing results against the top four teams, including teams tied for the fourth spot (Middlebury, Tufts, Williams, Hamilton, Trinity, and Bowdoin), Hamilton went 2-3, while Trinity and Bowdoin went 1-4 to give Hamilton the No. 4 seed. In head-to-head competition, Trinity defeated Bowdoin to earn the No. 5 seed.
Williams (11-4, 7-3 NESCAC) is the No. 3 seed after handing Middlebury a 4-2 loss in the regular season finale. The Ephs are making their eighth straight appearance in the tournament field, and are the No. 3 seed for the second straight year and eighth time overall. Williams owns one of the top offenses in the league, scoring 43 goals this season. The Ephs look to advance to the semifinals for the third straight year when they host No. 6 Bowdoin (11-4, 6-4 NESCAC). The Polar Bears are in the NESCAC Championship field for the 19th consecutive year but are the No. 6 seed for just the second time in program history, the only other time was in 2009. Bowdoin has won eight NESCAC titles, its last coming in 2015. The Polar Bears enter the tournament having scored 54 goals, the second most in the league this season. Bowdoin and Williams have met seven times in the NESCAC Championship, with the Polar Bears owning a 4-3 edge over the Ephs. The two teams last met in the 2012 quarterfinals, with Bowdoin posting a 3-0 victory. When the two teams met this year, on October 14, Williams defeated Bowdoin in penalty strokes, 4-3.
The final quarterfinal matchup features No. 4 Hamilton (10-5, 6-4 NESCAC) hosting No. 5 Trinity (11-4, 6-4 NESCAC). The Continentals are the No. 4 seed and will host a quarterfinal game for the second straight season, as they make their fifth straight appearance in the tournament field. Hamilton earned its first NESCAC postseason victory in 2016 and looks to return to the semifinals this season when it faces the Bantams. Trinity is the No. 5 seed following a 2-0 win at Amherst in the final game of the regular season. The Bantams are in the tournament field for the 13th consecutive season and are the No. 5 seed for the second consecutive year and fourth time overall. The Bantams have a solid defense, boasting a 0.53 goals against average. Trinity defeated the Continentals, 1-0, in last year’s quarterfinal matchup in the lone meeting between the two teams in the NESCAC Championship. Hamilton won the regular season meeting on its home turf, 3-2, over the Bantams on September 15.
Results for the NESCAC Field Hockey Championship will be available at the completion of each day on NESCAC.com.