Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Top-seeded Middlebury scored three times in the opening half on its way to a 5-2 victory over eighth-seeded Colby (9-7) in a NESCAC Quarterfinal Saturday. The Panthers (15-1) will host the league's championship weekend and the rest of the field will be determined following Sunday's other quarterfinal matchups.
Middlebury raced out to the early lead, opening the scoring 3:39 into the contest. Grace Jennings intercepted a Mule pass at midfield and used her speed to create a breakaway. She slid a low shot inside the right post for a 1-0 advantage.
Colby pulled even with 24:02 on the clock, as Emily Hogan scored from close range. Middlebury countered less than eight minutes later when Meg Fear knocked in a centering pass from teammate Erin Nicholas. The Panthers closed out the scoring with 4:46 before the half, as Marissa Baker tipped in a pass from Jennings at the right post for a 3-1 lead. That score held into the intermission thanks to a nice save by Panther goalie Megan Collins on a hard, turnaround shot Colby's Georgia Cassidy.
The Mules pulled to within a goal, at 3-2 just 3:20 into the second half on a diving effort from Merrill Read, but the game immediately went into a two-hour weather delay.
Once out of the unexpected break, Middlebury netted its fourth goal eight minutes later after a loose ball hit off a Mule defender and Nicholas flipped it into the cage. The Panthers closed out the scoring with 18:15 remaining when Jennings lifted a rebound into the upper portion of the net for her second tally of the contest.
Collins, who finished with three saves, kept the final difference at three goals, as a centering pass from the right side found its way to Read at the left post, but the Panther stepped over to thwart the one-timer.
Riley Whitmyer registered eight saves for Colby, as Middlebury held a 19-7 advantage in shots. The Panthers also had a 10-3 edge in penalty corners.
With a goal and an assist, Nicholas extended her point streak to 12-consecutive games, picking up 10 goals and six assists in those contests.