Field Hockey Falls to Middlebury, 3-1
Issue   |   Tue, 09/25/2012 - 23:07

Field hockey cruised to victories over Springfield and Hamilton to remain undefeated last week before falling to Middlebury on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s NCAA quarterfinals. The 10th-ranked Lord Jeffs used a balanced attack to beat Springfield 7-0 and allowed only three shots in a 5-0 victory over Hamilton before falling to the undefeated, third-ranked Panthers.

The Lord Jeffs left no doubt about which field hockey team rules the Pioneer Valley at Springfield, where the team caught fire early and capitalized on their chances to put the game away. Alex Phillie ’14 opened the team’s account after six minutes with an unassisted goal, and Madeline Tank ’15 doubled the lead four minutes later by putting away a rebound past the diving Springfield goalie.

Amherst showed no sign of letting up, and Ellie Andersen ’15 scored her third goal of the season before the 15:00 mark. Krista Zsitvay ’14 got in on the action to make it 4-0, and Tank put an exclamation point on the first half by diving to score her own rebound.

With over 50 minutes left to play after Tank’s goal, the game was already effectively over, as the Lord Jeffs’ suffocating defense ensured that Springfield rarely threatened Rachel Tannenbaum ’15 in net. Tannenbaum finished with four saves and recorded her first clean sheet of the season. Phillie and Katie McMahon ’13 added goals in the second half to push the final score to 7-0.

Hamilton was one of just three teams to beat the Lord Jeffs last year, but they returned only two starters from that squad and came into Saturday’s matchup 0-4, having allowed the most goals per game in the NESCAC. The Lord Jeffs, meanwhile, entered the game leading the conference in goals scored per game.

Amazingly enough, Hamilton kept the Lord Jeffs off the score sheet for the first 19 minutes. Hamilton’s Victoria Trentini showed why she leads the NESCAC in saves per game by stopping the first 14 shots sent her way, as the Lord Jeffs kept applying constant offensive pressure and allowed just one shot over that span.

Something had to give, and, fittingly enough, the breakthroughs came thanks to Zsitvay and McMahon, who finished the weekend tied for second in goals in the NESCAC. Zsitvay turned and fired home to give Amherst the lead before assisting the team’s second goal two minutes later, taking the ball to the end line and setting up McMahon for a one-time shot.

Katie Paolano ’16 recorded her first career point in the buildup to the third goal, sliding the ball to Tank for her first career assist and Tank’s 10th career goal. The Lord Jeffs added two more goals deep into the second half when McMahon and Zsitvay scored in the 64th and 65th minute.

The Lord Jeffs’ domination shone through most clearly on the stat sheet, as the team held an incredible 49-3 advantage in shots, with only Trentini’s heroics in goal preventing a bigger blowout. “I was proud of our team for finishing on three goals in the first half and dominating play in the second half,” coach Carol Knerr said. “To generate 49 shots shows tremendous effort from our team to possess the ball and sustain attack. The Hamilton goalie played a fantastic game.”

Amherst was all too familiar with Middlebury last year, as the Panthers ended their NESCAC and NCAA tournament runs. Middlebury struck first this time around when Lauren Greer, last year’s NESCAC player of the year, crossed to Anna Kenyon, who scored 1:52 into the game.

Amherst pulled even seven minutes later, when a strong stretch of pressure culminated in McMahon scoring after a Zsitvay shot rebounded out in front.

The game looked to be headed into halftime all square when the Panthers won a penalty corner with 10 seconds left. Greer showed why she led the nation in scoring last year by converting from a small angle and giving Middlebury the lead.

Greer finished her scoring seven minutes into the second half, giving Middlebury a two-goal lead that would last the rest of the contest. The Lord Jeffs fought hard but couldn’t get another goal, finishing with 13 shots to the Panthers’ 17.

“The Middlebury game was a competitive game and a fairly even game in terms of shots and attack generated by each team,” Knerr said. “We hope to see them again later in the season. It was a great test and a game that we will learn a lot from.”

The Lord Jeffs return to action this Saturday when they travel to Medford to take on Tufts at 12 p.m.