Field hockey beats Bowdoin in title game of NESCAC tourney

It was deja-vu all over again for Tori Scott ’04.

For the second consecutive year, Scott scored the winning goal in the semifinals of the NESCAC tournament, putting one home early in the first overtime against Middlebury. The junior forward provided quite an encore the next day as well, scoring both goals as the Ephs dominated Bowdoin 2-1 to win the NESCAC championship.

On Saturday, with the score knotted at one apiece, Scott scored one of the most amazing goals ever to lead the Ephs past the Panthers in a 2-1 overtime classic. After receiving a pass down low near the end line, Middlebury goalie Jo Opot dove to the ground, cutting off virtually every angle for a shot on goal. But Scott, a master of improv, somehow lifted her shot over Opot into the top corner of the net, setting off a wild on-field celebration.

“Tori’s goal was one of the most unbelievable plays I have ever seen,” Head Coach Alix Rorke said. “She had virtually no angle into the net, but somehow she was able to tuck the ball in there. It was incredible.”

Her teammates were equally impressed.

“Tori is amazing,” forward Moonjoo Han ’03 said. “Most players would have just knocked the ball right into the goalie, but she somehow lifted it up and over.”

This sort of thing has been routine for Scott. Last year, her goal with no time remaining lifted the Ephs past Bowdoin in the NESCAC semifinal. She also scored an overtime goal against the Polar Bears during her freshman year in the women’s hockey NESCAC playoffs.

Scott’s heroics capped off a thrilling game between two teams that have no love lost between each other.

After a scoreless first half, Molly Jennings ’04 put the Ephs ahead off an assist from Rebecca Kiselewich ’04 with 27 minutes left. The Panthers responded, however, as Abigail Lamb tied the score with 10 minutes remaining.

However, Scott wasted no time in the extra frame, scoring the game-winner just 1:58 into the overtime period.

“The Middlebury game was definitely a battle,” Rorke said. “They are an extremely talented team, so we really had to dig deep to come away with the win.”

Following the drama-filled semifinal, the Ephs had to regroup for the finals the next day. That task turned out to be easier than expected, however.

Scott scored two goals only five minutes apart late in the first half as the Ephs controlled the game en route to a 2-1 win over host Bowdoin. The Ephs earned an automatic NCAA bid after winning their second consecutive NESCAC crown.

With the memory of an early-season overtime loss to the Polar Bears still etched in their heads, the Ephs rode the back of Scott and goalie Wendy Stone ’05. With less than 10 minutes left in the first half, Kate Leonard ’03 assisted on Scott’s first goal. Five minutes later, Kiselewich found Scott for her second goal, giving the Ephs a lead they would not relinquish.

“Tori was able to find the back of the net early,” Rorke said. “That gave us the confidence to really play together and control the rest of the game.”

While Scott led the offense, it was Stone who was the real story of the day. She made 14 saves, allowing only a late goal with 15 seconds left. Her outstanding play frustrated Bowdoin, but definitely pleased her coach.

“She really was the MVP of the game,” Rorke said. “She had 14 unbelievable saves today. She really was ‘The Wall.’ For someone who has only played in goal for one season, she has been tremendous. And she absolutely stepped up her play yet again in today’s game.”

Stone and Scott may have stolen the headlines, but the Ephs could not have asked for a gutsier performance from their top offensive threat, forward Stef Noering ’03. Barely able to walk after suffering a foot injury in practice late in the week, Noering nonetheless battled through the pain and played well, assisting on Scott’s winning goal against Middlebury.

It was the type of performance that may not have shown up in the box score, but showed the true determination and heart of one of the best players ever at Williams.

Rorke’s Ephs will head to Grantham, Penn. and the campus of Messiah College where they will face Wittenberg University (17-3) and host Messiah (15-3) will play Plymouth State (17-1) on Friday, Nov. 15 in second round NCAA play. All four teams playing at Messiah this weekend received first round byes. The winner of the bracket will advance to the final four at Springfield College.