MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The second-seeded Jumbo field hockey team fell just short on the road against top-seeded Middlebury College 1-0 in the NESCAC championship game Sunday afternoon at Kohn Field.
|Sophomore Beth Krikorian led the team with three shots|
With the loss, Tufts now sits at 16-2. They will be awaiting NCAA Tournament placement which will announced late tonight. Middlebury has won back-to-back NESCAC titles, and have an overall record of 17-1 currently. They are the conference's automatic qualifier for the NCAAs.
Starting the first half, the Jumbos applied early pressure in the Panthers' defensive end. This created a penalty corner, but it was quickly dismissed by Middlebury's backline as junior Rachel Hamilton's shot got blocked. Shortly after, things started to develop for Middlebury on offense. Getting a penalty corner of their own, they tested the Jumbos' defense, but had two shots blocked immediately in the circle. Coming into the contest, the Jumbos were tied for first with Trinity in the NESCAC with only nine goals allowed on the season.
Moving the ball swiftly in the Middlebury's defensive end, the Jumbos had a stretch of four penalty corners in a short period of time. However, they had a difficult time putting a shot on Panther goalkeeper Megan Collins.
Heading towards the end of the frame, Middlebury received a penalty corner with a little less than five minutes remaining. Southpaw Grace Jennings for Middlebury seemed to be all over the field in the first half. In a beautifully executed penalty corner, the Panthers got on the board. Marissa Baker took a touch pass off the stick of Jennings and sent it behind the back to a wide open Emma Johns. Johns gathered the pass and knocked it past Tufts freshman goalkeeper Andie Stallman for the 1-0 lead.
Looking to get on the board, Jumbo senior co-captain Gigi Tutoni made her presence known on offense starting the second half. This pressure led to more time in the Panthers' defensive end, but once again Tufts was unable to capitalize. Both teams seemed to be extra cautious when controlling the ball, as a turnover could've been costly.
Isabel Chandler and Erin Nicholas midway through the half almost added to the Middlebury lead. Each had brilliant individual efforts, where Chandler's shot went wide and Nicholas's shot was stopped by Stallman.
Nearing the end of regulation, the Jumbos started to push up their backline hoping to score a late goal. Middlebury wouldn't budge though, as their defense continuously stopped any possible opportunity. Tufts' best chance came with roughly ten minutes left to play. Freshman Sophie Schoeni from outside the circle, sent in a ball towards net that was met with a few bodies in front. There to greet it, freshman Claire Foley almost put the deflected pass past a sprawled Collins. The Jumbos weren't able to even the score, as Middlebury walked away with a 1-0 nail-biting win.
Shots were even, as both teams had nine total. Penalty corners were in favor of Tufts, as they had a total of ten, while Middlebury had four. Stallman suffered her first loss of the season and had a total two saves. Collins made one for the Panthers.
Written by Athletic Communications Intern Ryan Servant