Middlebury defeats Bowdoin in shootout to earn NESCAC title
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Middlebury won its second NESCAC Championship with a 3-2 shootout victory against Bowdoin on Sunday.
The top-ranked Panthers remain perfect on the season at 17-0 and will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Sixth-ranked Bowdoin falls to 14-3 on the year and is expected to get an at-large selection to the tournament.
Bowdoin had won each of its last six NESCAC Championship games, with seven overall titles and nine championship game appearances. Middlebury was making its sixth appearance in the title game, earning its previous crown in ’03.
Bowdoin took a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game when Kassey Matoin scored her second goal of the season with a score off a penalty stroke. Middlebury answered 1:23 later when Anna Kenyon sent a centering pass towards the goal where Alyssa DiMaio knocked it in for her seventh goal of the year to tie the game at one.
The Polar Bears took a 2-1 lead late in the first half, when Rachel Kennedy scored her team-leading 14th goal of the season. Middlebury threatened with two late penalty corners and a pair of shots on net, but entered halftime with a 2-1 deficit.
Middlebury tied the game with just 6:30 remaining, with Lauren Greer netting her NESCAC-best 34th goal of the year. Katherine Theiss sent a pass to Greer, whose hard shot deflected off a defender and into the goal to tie the game at two.
The first overtime went scoreless. The Polar Bears had a chance 2:30 into the second overtime session, but a high shot by Cathleen Smith on a penalty corner was turned away by goalkeeper Madeline Brooks.
Middlebury had the best chance to take home the title with 3:20 left, but Greer’s penalty stroke high to the right was stopped by Kayla Lessard.
After 100 minutes of play, the game entered a five-round shootout. Cathleen Smith and Kennedy scored early for Bowdoin, with Greer converting for the Panthers. Middlebury’s Elinore O’Brien was stopped by Lessard to give the Polar Bears a 2-1 lead after two rounds.
Brooks made a save to deny Riley before Lessard stopped two shot from Middlebury’s Anna Kenyon to keep it 2-1. A flip shot went wide left for Matoin before Charlotte Gardiner tied the shootout at two.
Bowdoin looked to take the lead in the final round, but Adrienne O’Donnell shot wide after a deke move on Brooks. After faking a shot, Middlebury’s Catherine Fowler found the right side of the net to give the Panthers the title.
Bowdoin held a slight 15-13 shots advantage in the game with a 13-5 edge in penalty corners. Brooks and Lessard each finished with nine saves apiece.