Panthers knock field hockey out of NESCAC tourney

Field hockey (6-9, 3-6 in the NESCAC) suffered a disappointing pair of losses to Middlebury (13-2, 7-2) last weekend, ending the Ephs’ season in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament.

Sunday’s postseason game challenged the Ephs, knowing that a loss would bring an end to their season. The team also faced the difficult task of trying to avenge the heartbreaking double overtime loss to the Panthers on Friday night. Unfortunately, they were not able to shake the memories from Friday’s game and lost 2-1.

The game began with both sides playing well for the first half and vying for control on the field. However, in the waning moments of the first half, Panther Chase Delano assisted by Allison Grant, netted a goal for Middlebury. The Eph defense played solidly, holding the Panthers to this one goal despite the Panthers’ nine penalty corners and 11 shots on goal in the first half. While the defense kept the Ephs within reach, Williams’ offense struggled, having only one shot on goal and no penalty corners in the first half.

The second half was much more active for the Eph offense, as the women earned nine penalty corners and five shots on goal. Middlebury had five and six, respectively.

However, Delano scored another goal, this time unassisted, in the 47th minute of the game to extend the Panthers’ lead to 2-0. The Ephs continued to fight, and they got on the board during the 53rd minute when Jess Overlander ’09 scored an unassisted goal. Nonetheless, the Panthers’ combined offense and defense proved too much, and the Ephs lost 2-1.

Head Coach Alix Rorke commended her team on its work throughout this season. “Our record does not reflect the outstanding effort we made, nor does it capture our unwavering support for one another on and off the field,” Rorke said. “We were optimistic that we could turn things around in the NESCAC tournament. We made a great run but in the end fell short. I am proud of the team and will miss the seniors more than I can express.”

Sunday’s game was the second in a row that the women lost to Middlebury. The Panthers also defeated them on Friday in a double overtime thriller. Cold and windy conditions only added to the challenge of solid opposition.

The Ephs began the game strongly with co-captain Meighan McGowan ’09, assisted by Arianna Kourides ’09, netting a goal in the third minute. Delano, assisted by Grant, managed to even the score in the 25th minute. Rebecca Gilbert ’10 scored the final goal of the first half, and Overlander collected an assist on the play.

In the second half, the Panthers evened the score again in the 57th minute, with Delano, again assisted by Grant, taking the game into overtime.

The first overtime period ended scoreless, but during the second overtime, in the 96th minute of the game, the unstoppable Panther team of Grant and Delano scored the final goal, ending the Ephs’ regular season with an upsetting 3-2 loss.

Williams had only 11 total shots on goal compared to Middlebury’s 23, and only nine total penalty corners to Middlebury’s 14.
“For us seniors, it is a very difficult way to end our field hockey careers,” McGowan said, “especially given our past history in the NCAA and NESCAC tournaments.”

With the end of the season, field hockey will lose a number of talented seniors, including McGowan, Overlander, Kourides, Sarah Burleigh ’09, Taylor Wilson-Hill ’09, Julia Nawrocki ’09, Elspeth Macmillan ’09 and Sally Cobb ’09.