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Monday, Feb 26, 2024

Sports summary: How did the Panthers fare this weekend?

Elise Morris ’22.5 strikes a long ball upfield in Middlebury’s win over Hamilton.
Elise Morris ’22.5 strikes a long ball upfield in Middlebury’s win over Hamilton.

The beginning of every academic year is always met with great anticipation at Middlebury, not just due to the start of classes and the sight of familiar faces, but also because of the return of the fall sports season. The semester may still be in its infancy, but there are already reasons abound for Middlebury fans to be excited about the school’s sports teams. Here’s a look at how all the Panthers performed this past weekend:

Women’s Soccer: The Panthers recorded a convincing 41 victory over Hamilton on Saturday in the season’s home opener. Ellie Bavier ’22.5 set the tone for the win, launching a bullet of a strike into the top left corner from long distance. The Continentals then equalized, but Sophia Cole ’25 made sure the Panthers took a lead into halftime, coolly converting after a through ball from Ella Gagnon ’23.5. Kiley Bertos ’24.5 then gave the Panthers clear daylight between them and their opponents, tapping in from close range on a rebound before Gagnon sealed the win with a well taken finish off a cross from Bavier.

Men’s Soccer: The men’s soccer team also hosted Hamilton this Saturday, ultimately falling 1-2 in a closely contested match. Casey Lund ’24 gave the Panthers the lead after 17 minutes, nodding home from a Eujin Chae ’25 corner for the first goal of his Middlebury career. The Panthers led into halftime but ultimately succumbed to Hamilton’s sustained pressure in the second half, conceding the winner inside the final quarter of an hour. 

Women’s Cross Country: The women’s cross country team cruised to their second consecutive win in as many weeks, placing eight runners inside the top ten en route to an almost-perfect score. Former Panther Phoebe Colvin Oehmig ’21 was the first across the line, running as an alum whose score had no impact on the team. Bea Parr ’25 was the first scoring runner to finish, stopping the clock at 16:59 for the 4k course. Victoria Fawcett ’26 finished just ten seconds back in her second outing in Middlebury blue, while Kate Ratcliffe ’25, Keegan McAuliffe ’26 and Kate Kenny ’23 completed the Panthers’ top five.

Men’s Cross Country: The men’s cross country team matched the women as they, too, recorded a big win at the Aldrich Invitational, with Alec Gironda ’24 claiming his second individual win of the season. Shef West ’26 finished second in his Panthers debut, outkicking Union’s Charlie Alekson ’25 to the line. Zander Kessler ’22.5, Owen Johnson ’26 and Peter Burke ’24 all scored for the Panthers as well, with the team ultimately winning by a comfortable margin over Union College.

Women’s Tennis: The women’s tennis team made their first appearance of the season this past weekend, marking their first competitive outing since Taka Bertrand took charge of the team this summer. After an opening day of doubles matches, in which each Panther pair won one and lost one, the teams engaged in three rounds of singles matches. Sahana Raman ’25, last year’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Cup runner-up, made a strong start to her season, winning three out of three. Lulu Wu ’26 also went unbeaten in singles play, while Claudia Miller ’25 and Nina Farhat ’25 each won two and lost one. 

Men’s Golf: The Panthers placed 11th out of 18 teams at the recent Williams Fall Invitational, finishing fifth out of the nine NESCAC schools in attendance. Hogan Beazley ’23 paced the Panthers, tying for 19th place with a two-day score of 150. Phin Choukas ’22.5 and Colin McCaigue ’24 were close behind as they tied for 31st with scores of 152. The Panthers narrowly lost out to conference rivals Trinity, finishing just four strokes back.

Field Hockey: The Panthers extended their astonishing win streak to 35 games in a run that dates back to the 2019 season. They tallied their first win over Hamilton on Saturday in a close 2–1 contest, with Katie George ’24 providing a goal and an assist. After teeing up Audrey Lazar ’23.5 in the first quarter, George slalomed through the defense to score the decisive second early in the fourth quarter. Hamilton ensured a grandstand finish with a late goal in the dying embers of the match, but the Panthers defense held strong to preserve the victory. The team returned to action just a day later, this time cruising to a 4–0 win over Babson College. Lila Branka ’24 scored a hat trick of goals to fire the Panthers to victory, finishing off assists from Meg Shelburne ’24, Grace Murphy ’22.5 and Amy Griffin ’24. Murphy also tallied a goal for the Panthers.

Football: A strong 17–6 win over conference rivals Amherst College got the Panthers up and running for the season. Ben Tauber ’22.5 led the way with a strong passing performance, throwing for 290 yards with a 64% completion rate. Greg Livingston ’22.5 was his most used target as the pair connected ten times for 111 yards, while Donovan Wood ’24 also impressed with seven receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown. Alex Maldjian ’23.5 also chipped in with a rushing score, and a Zach Levy ’25 field goal from 20 yards out extended the Panthers’ lead. The team played shutdown defense on the other side of the ball as Kwesi Adu-Diawuo ’23.5 and Colby Burke ’25 both intercepted Amherst quarterback Mike Piazza ’24. Kieran Sheridan ’23.5 and John McCool ’23.5 led the team with six solo tackles each.

Volleyball: The volleyball team kicked off NESCAC competition this weekend with two tricky away games at Williams and Amherst, ultimately slipping in two defeats. The Panthers firmly challenged Williams through four closely contested sets, winning the second 25–19 but losing the other three by just two points each. Lexi Linafelter ’24 and Katie Kraczkowsky ’24 led the scoring for the Panthers, each recording 11 kills. Kelly Ferrero ’23.5 also impressed with 34 digs while Gabbie O’Toole ’25 led the way in setting with 33 assists. It was a similar storyline on Sunday as the Panthers tied the match with a second set victory only to fall in the third and fourth sets for another 3–1 loss. Linafelter topped the scoring for the Panthers again with 14 kills, followed by Kraczkowsky with 12 and Ava Tuccio ’26 with nine. Nearly everything the team did offensively went through O’Toole, who tallied 37 assists. Ferrero led the team defensively with 26 digs, closely followed by Britt Lange ’24 with 25.

Editor’s note: Lexi Linafelter ’24 is a Sports Editor for The Campus. She was not involved in the editing of this article.

Charles Crounse

Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.