No. 4 Field Hockey Team Loses NESCAC Nail Biter to No. 6 Middlebury, 3-2

MEDFORD - The No. 4 Tufts field hockey team lost a highly-contested battle to No. 6 Middlebury, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Ounjian Field. Before the start of the game, the Jumbos honored their six seniors: Mary Kate Patton, Amanda Weeks, Celia Lewis, Erin Sanders, Ellexa Thomas, and Mary Travers.  

Mary Travers scored her team leading sixth goal for the Jumbos

Today's game was the first conference loss for the Jumbos this season as they fell to 7-3 overall and 6-1 NESCAC. The visiting Panthers improved to 8-2 and 5-1 in the NESCAC.

Middlebury got on the board early when they received a corner just 3:38 into the game. The corner was inserted by Audrey Quirk and the first shot by Lauren Schweppe was saved by Tufts goalie Emily Polinski, but off the rebound Annie Leonard was able to find Marissa Baker who put the Panthers up 1-0 just four minutes in.

Tufts had a huge scoring opportunity 18 minutes into the first half when sophomore forward Rachel Hamilton intercepted a pass deep in Panther territory and had a one-on-one chance with Middlebury goalie Abby Furdak. Hamilton tried to go up and over the goalie, but sent the ball just over the cage.

The Jumbos tied the game at 1-1 25 minutes in when Travers inserted a corner and Lewis ripped a shot that was saved by Furdak. The rebound found the stick of Tufts' Claire Trilling who sent a bouncing ball in front of the net where Travers was waiting and was able to put it away for her team-leading sixth goal of the season.

Hanaa Malik put Tufts up 2-1 with just under a minute remaining in the first half when a diving shot on the right side by Travers was saved by Furdak, sending the ball to the middle of the circle where Malik was staring at a wide open net and was able to hit it in for her third goal of the season. That sent the Jumbos into halftime with the lead.

Ten minutes into the second half, Middlebury received three consecutive corners and finally was able to tie the game when Baker passed it from the top of the circle to Leonard on the left side who ripped it past the entire Tufts defense for her sixth goal of the season.

Just seven minutes later, the Panthers got another corner and did not miss their opportunity to take the lead. Quirk inserted the ball to the top of the circle and Schweppe fired a bullet towards the goal that was tipped by Molly Freeman for the game-winning goal and her seventh of the season.    

The Jumbos controlled the possession in the final 20 minutes of the game, but were only able to come away with one corner in that time span and were not successful. The Panthers' defense was outstanding late in the game giving Tufts a very difficult chance to tie the game and eventually came away victorious.

Tufts finished with the advantage in shots (12-8), but lost the penalty corner battle (8-7). Middlebury goalie Abby Furdak and Tufts goalie Emily Polinski each had two saves for their respective teams.

Middlebury will return to action tomorrow when they travel to Wesleyan for another NESCAC game, which is scheduled to start at noon. Tufts will play again at home on Wednesday in a non-conference match-up with Gordon that is scheduled for 5 pm.

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Written by Will Ferreira, Athletic Communications Intern