Jeffs Fall to Middlebury in NESCAC Semis, 1-0
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Middlebury first-year Pam Schulman netted the game winner in the 59th minute to lift the fourth-seeded Panthers to a 1-0 victory over top-seeded Amherst in the NESCAC field hockey semifinals on Gooding Field.
Snapping sixth-ranked Amherst’s 13-game win streak, Middlebury (14-2, 8-2 NESCAC) advances to its third-straight league championship game and will face the winner of Bowdoin/Tufts on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. Falling to the fifth-ranked Panthers by a single goal for the second time this season, Amherst (13-3, 9-1 NESCAC) will hope to receive an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament when the 24-team field is officially announced tomorrow at 10 p.m.
With neither team able to generate any offense in the early going, Middlebury put the game’s first shot on net when Alyssa DiMaio ’15 corralled a loose ball in front and forced Rachel Tannenbaum ’15 to make a pad save with just under 20 minutes to go in the first half.
Switching fields, Amherst won a penalty corner in the 18th minute. Fielding the insert at the top of the circle, Alex Philie ’14 played a pass to her left toward Krista Zsitvay ’14. Putting a shot on target, the forward fooled goalkeeper Emily Knapp ’15, but Panther senior defender Meredith Rowe made a defensive save on the back post to keep the Jeffs off the board.
With under 10 minutes to go in the opening stanza, Katherine Theiss ’14 narrowly missed a chance to put Middlebury in front, redirecting a shot just wide of the right post. Just over a minute later, the Panthers again threatened, but Tannenbaum made a big save on a Shannon Hutteman ’16 try from the edge of the circle. Earning another corner moments later, Catherine Fowler ’15 looked to have pulled the visitors ahead when she evaded a defender and ripped a high try into the back of the cage, but an illegal shot was called, negating the would-be goal.
Making a move down the right endline, Zsitvay nearly netted the game’s first tally early in the second half, but the senior’s shot rattled off the near post. Moving into the circle in the 44th minute, Middlebury earned a penalty corner. Putting three quick tries on goal, the Panthers came close to taking the lead, but Tannenbaum turned away all three attempts to keep the Purple & White level.
With under 11 minutes left in regulation, Middlebury pushed forward still looking for the game’s first marker. Carrying it up the right side, Fowler slotted a pass toward the front of the net. Making a run to the cage, Schulman redirected it past Tannenbaum, tucking the go-ahead goal inside the right post at 58:58.
Trying for an equalizer, Amherst earned a penalty corner with under eight minutes to play, but the Panthers cleared the ball out of the circle without allowing the Jeffs to put a shot on net. Almost taking advantage of a penalty corner of its own in the 64th minute, Middlebury’s Elinore O’Brien ’14 slipped a shot past Tannenbaum, but Amherst senior Sarah Canning was there the make the defensive save to keep the Jeffs within one.
Protecting their slim margin, the Panthers turned in a stellar defensive effort, holding Amherst without a shot after Zsitvay’s attempt at the 37:36 mark of the second half. The Panthers finished with a 9-5 shot advantage and a 7-5 edge in corners. Knapp finished with a pair of saves, while Tannenbaum made five stops.