Field hockey falls 2-1 in OT, loses chance at postseason

Field hockey (3-11, 1-8 in the NESCAC) finished its 2010 season with a close 2-1 OT loss to Middlebury on Friday. The home loss knocked Williams out of the running for a berth in the NESCAC quarterfinals, which began on Sunday, and ended the women’s season.

National No. 10 Middlebury, ranked third in the NESCAC at the end of the season, came out strong from the get-go. The Panthers outshot the Ephs 7-1 on the half, but tri-captain netminder Katrina Tulla ’11 was able to stave off their offensive drive, making five saves to hold the game to 0-0 until the last minutes of the first half. At 30:49 into the game, Panther Hannah Clarke scored an unassisted goal to boost Middlebury above Williams 1-0 heading into the break.

The Ephs rallied to rebound in the second half, as Margie Fulton ’12 collected a loose ball near the Panthers’ goal and found Betsy Hart ’14, who buried the ball in the back of the net for her first collegiate career goal. Hart’s score equalized the game at 1-1 only 11 minutes into the second half. The women continued to build on their momentum, outshooting Middlebury 9-5 in the second 35 minutes as Tulla tallied three more saves to hold the score tied until the clock ran out.

Williams began to falter as the game headed into overtime, allowing two Middlebury shots in the first seven minutes. At 7:47, Middlebury’s Lauren Greer ended the team’s hopes for the postseason when one of her shots finally found the back of the net, slipping past Tulla for a 2-1 Panther sudden-death win. Middlebury claimed a 6-3 penalty corner advantage on the day.

“Our performance against Middlebury was probably our best overall performance of the season,” Head Coach Alix Barrale said. “They were ranked 10th in the nation, and I thought we played an outstanding match [against] them that could have gone either way. Of course I am disappointed that we lost, but it is hard to dwell on that when the women really put forth their best effort.”

Friday marked the end of the line for the team’s captains and only seniors, Tulla, Lindsay Davies ’11 and Alice Bearn ’11. Barrale had only good things to say about the team’s leadership this season. “[The seniors] were strong leaders and performed well in pressure situations,” she said of the three players, all of whom have been consistent contributors to the team’s success over the past four years. “We will miss them.”

Field hockey will look to its young squad, composed primarily of sophomores and first-years, heading into future seasons. “Overall, I think we have a strong foundation to build on for next season,” Barrale said. “We will have 10 returning starters and I believe the team is determined to come out on the other side of all the tough losses we suffered this season.”