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Panthers in national title hunt

The Middlebury Panthers mens soccer teams are still alive in the hunt for a Division III National Championship. They survived a first round scare by Framingham State, before shutting out Norwich in the second round to advance to this weekends sectionals. The Panthers soccer team began the tournament by dominating the Framingham State Rams, only to see the game go through two complete halves and two sudden death overtime periods, only to find themselves in a 0-0 tie. The Panthers controlled the entire contest, out-shooting the Rams 25-4, and they held a 10-1 advantage in corner kicks but they couldnt get the ball past Framingham State goalie Greg Halle. Halle would end the game with credit for 10 saves. Middlebury finally won the contest when they outscored the Rams 4-1 during the penalty kick phase of overtime. Middleburys Harrison Watkins Nolan Lincoln Allen Bourdon and Otis Pitney nailed penalty kicks for the victorious Panthers. Framingham State ended their season at 16-3-2. Middlebury then faced the Norwich Cadets in the second round of the Regionals, and thanks to a goal by unassisted goal by freshman Robbie Redmond late in the second half. Once again, despite the close score, the Panthers controlled the contest. They held a 19-9 advantage in shots and a 15-0 advantage in corner kicks. Cadet goalie Charles Maxwell, who kept the game close with five saves. His counterpart, Middlebury senior Brian Bush needed just a pair of saves to record his 11th shutout of the season, and set a new school record. It was his 25th career shutout, breaking the schools all-time shutout mark (Eric Davis 92-95.) The Cadets end their season at 18-3-1. With just 16 teams left Middlebury will face Carleton this weekend, looking to advance to the National quarter-finals. The field hockey squad had it a little easier in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, but couldnt advance any further. They opened up the tournament last Saturday with a 5-2 win over Lebanon Valley. After the two teams battled to a 1-1 in the first half, the Panthers exploded for four second half goals to secure the win. Sophomore attacker Chase Delano led the attack by recording a hat trick, with Allison Grant contributing a goal and an assist. Sophie Thompson scored the Panthers remaining goal. Lebanon Valley goalie Caitlin Baro kept the game as close as she could with 15 recorded saves, while Panther goalie Caitlin Pentifallo made five stops herself. Lebanon Valley ends their season at 19-4. Next up for the Panthers was Bowdoin last Sunday, and the Polar Bears proved to much for the Panthers. Madeleine McQueeney scored a pair of goals to lead Bowdoin to a 3-1 win, effectively ended Middleburys title hopes. Lindsay McNamara scored as well for the Polar Bears, while Delano provided Middleburys lone goal. Pentifallo made eight saves in her final appearance in the net as a Panther. Bowdoin enters the next round at 17-2, while Middlebury ends their season at 14-4. Lake Monsters The 2008 Vermont Lake Monster pitcher PJ Dean and infielder Jake Smolinski were part of a five-player trade between the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins last Tuesday. Dean, Smolinski and Nationals infielder Emilio Bonifacio were traded by the Nationals to Florida for Marlins outfielder Josh Willingham and pitcher Scott Olsen. Dean went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 10 starts for the Lake Monsters during the 2008 season. A seventh-round selection by the Nationals in the 2007 draft, Dean allowed just two earned runs over 37 innings in his first eight starts of the season. After beginning the 2008 season with Single-A Hagerstown, Smolinski joined the Lake Monsters in early August after coming off the disabled list. The Nationals second-round pick in the 2007 draft, Smolinski hit .306 (30-for-98) with 17 runs, eight doubles and nine RBI in 24 games for Vermont . Bonifacio hit .243 (41-for-169) with 29 runs in 49 games last season for the Nationals after being traded to Washington from Arizona. Willingham hit .254 (89-for-351) with 15 homers and 51 RBI in 102 games for the Marlins, while Olsen was 8-11 with a 4.20 ERA in 33 starts for Florida. This marks the second straight year that Lake Monster players have been traded during the off-season after playing in Vermont. Pitcher Glenn Gibson was traded by Washington to Tampa Bay for Elijah Dukes in December of 2007. New York-Penn League Teams of the New York-Penn League may be adversaries on the field during the season, but a few weeks ago team executives from six organizations and League President Ben Hayes converged on Burlington, Vermont to share ideas and brainstorm for the 2009 season in the first annual New York-Penn League Brainstorming Session. In an expansion of the the collaboration of the different organizations was led by emcee Tim Bawmann, the Vice President and General Manager of the Lowell Spinners, and put together by C.J. Knudsen and Nate Cloutier of the Vermont Lake Monsters. Many organizations have tried-and-true strategies that work in their market that can always be improved or expanded upon and these meetings allowed for a constant flow of ideas throughout the league members. For the Lowell Spinners, every night is opening night, said Bawmann. These meetings allow for us to think of new ways to keep things fresh and exciting so fans are entertained whether they come to one game or 38. The meetings occurred over a two-day period with the host Lake Monsters showing the attendees downtown Burlington and the Magic Hat Brewery. Representatives from the Lake Monsters were joined by those from the Batavia Muckdogs, Brooklyn Cyclones, Lowell Spinners, Oneonta Tigers and Tri-City ValleyCats. Plans are currently being designed to ensure this becomes an annual event, with thoughts for 2009 shifting to Lowell, Mass. or New York City. The New York-Penn League has roots dating back to 1891. The current 14-member league has teams in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts. Affiliates range from the New York Yankees, New York Mets to the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals. Its ownership even includes movie star Bill Murray of the Hudson Valley Renegades, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. of the Aberdeen Ironbirds and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis of the State College Spikes.

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