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Panthers nab NCAA bid

The soccer teams weren't the only Middlebury College teams to have a shot at a conference championship last weekend. The field hockey team had the same opportunity, but fell in the championship like the mens soccer squad. But, also like the soccer squad, they earned an at large bid despite losing in the conference finals. They will face the Tuft Jumbos in the regionals this Saturday at Bowdoin college. When they take the field Saturday it will be their sixth straight tournament appearance, and the ninth in the programs history.

The Panthers advanced to Sunday's Conference Champions by eliminating Williams College 2-1 in the semifinals last Saturday. Sophomore Attacker Chase Delano scored both goals for the Panthers while Jess Overlander provided the lone score for Williams College. Middlebury dominated the contest, out-shooting Williams 17-6, and if it wasn't for the fine performance of goalie Katrina Tulla (7 saves) they would have run away with the game. Caitlin Pentifallo made two saves for the victorious Panthers.

Things didn't go as smoothly in Sunday's Conference Championship.when they took on top seeded Bowdoin College. In a game that came down to shot accuracy, Bowdoin won going away 4-0. It was only the second time the Panthers were shutout all season. The last time occurred back on Oct. 4, on the same field against the same Bowdoin team. This game was evenly played with Bowdoin holding a mere one shot advantage, blasting 15 at the Panthers net, while Middlebury fired back with 14. In penalty corners the Panthers held a slight edge at 7-6. But the real difference can be found in the quality and accuracy of the shots taken. Despite earning the shutout Bowdoin's goalies (Emileigh Mercer and Emily Neilson) needed to make just 4 saves to preserve.

Meanwhile 11 of the 15 shots blasted by Bowdoin's offense either found the net, or had to be stopped by Panther goalie Pentifallo, who finished with an impressive seven saves. Lindsay McNamara scored twice and Madeleine McQueeney contributed a goal and an assist to lead Bowdoin to the 4-0 win and with it the NESCAC Championship for 2008. The Panthers enter their first round game in the NCAA Tournament against Tufts with an impressive 19-3 record.

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