MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury College senior co-captain Marissa Baker scored with just four seconds remaining in the first overtime to lift the Panther field hockey team to a dramatic 3-2 victory over Tufts University in the 2019 NESCAC Championship Game played at Kohn Field on Sunday.
In the closing seconds of the first 10-minute overtime period, Middlebury senior Emma Johns fired a shot that was blocked. A foul was called outside of the arc and a quick restart went to Baker, who fired a shot that got past Tufts sophomore goalie Andie Stallman on her right to give top-seeded and host Middlebury the NESCAC Championship for the third consecutive year and seventh time overall.
Middlebury had trailed 2-1 entering the fourth quarter and scored a goal that would send the game to OT with 8:29 on the clock. Sustained Panther pressure would earn them the equalizer as senior Alison Denby forced a turnover and passed to Baker at the end line, outside of the arc. She fired a pass over to junior Danielle Brown, who forced Stallman to make a save. The rebound went to freshman Katie George who had a near-empty goal to put the ball into tying things at 2-2.
At the start, Middlebury had gained the first opportunity in the contest as Brown blasted a shot that went wide of the cage in the sixth minute. From there, neither team gained a clear advantage for the remainder of the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Middlebury earned the first penalty corner of the contest. Following a saved shot and a foul in the arc, the Panthers earned another corner. This one they would capitalize on. Freshman Audrey Lazar inserted a pass to junior Erin Nicholas. Instead of shooting like she previously did, Nicholas would pass to Johns who fired home the first goal of the contest in the 17th minute.
The Jumbos responded with their own penalty corner just a couple of minutes later. Senior Marguerite Salamone inserted to junior Beth Krikorian. She passed to her right for senior Rachel Hamilton who slapped a shot just wide.
With eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, sophomore Marin Waddington drew a foul in the attacking end for Tufts. She drove down to the end line and sent a pass across the goal mouth for junior Alexis Chauvette, who chipped in the equalizing goal (1-1).
Middlebury earned a near break-away after sending a pass through the Jumbo defense for Brown. However, Tufts' Stallman made a sliding save to clear away the threat.
Both teams threatened late in the quarter after drawing fouls in their attacking ends. However, no more goals came of it and the teams headed to the break tied at 1-1.
The Jumbos grabbed the lead early in the third quarter after Krikorian drew a foul. She was strong possessing the ball and slapped a pass from outside the arc. On its way to goal, Jumbo sophomore Gillian Roeca deflected the ball past Panther goalkeeper Grace Harlan for her 11th goal of the year coming 2:13 into the third.
Middlebury earned a penalty corner with less than 10 seconds to play in the third quarter. However, the Jumbo defense cleared away the late threat and headed to the final regulation quarter with the 2-1 lead.
The Panthers applied pressure early in the fourth and managed to gain a penalty corner. No opportunity came from that corner, but a foul in the arc earned them another corner. Again, the Jumbos cleared the opportunity away, but a foul in the arc gave Middlebury their third consecutive corner. Tufts successfully cleared the corners, but the Panther pressure continued and eventually led to the game-tying goal.
In the 2-2 game late in regulation, the Jumbos again responded with pressure of their own. They earned three penalty corners, but only got one shot away from the opportunities. A green card was issued to Middlebury, but Tufts could not capitalize on the extra-player chance. Down the stretch, neither team gained a strong opportunity to get the game-winner in regulation, so the NESCAC Championship headed to overtime.
Middlebury earned a penalty corner with just under six minutes to play in overtime. Baker was strong on the ball and made a move to get free, but Stallman stood tall and made the save. However, Baker would get the game-winning goal nearly as time expired to lift the Panthers.
Stallman made four saves for Tufts while Middebury's Harlan did not make a save in the win. Shots were 10-4 in favor of Middlebury, as were penalty corners (8-4).
Middlebury (17-1) earns the NESCAC automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament while the Jumbos (14-4), who were the third seed in NESCAC's, await word on an at-large berth which will be announced on Sunday evening. Head coach Tina Mattera's Jumbos are the conference runner-up for the fourth time.