Heading into this season, Middlebury field hockey was set to defend their title as national champions, the newly resurfaced Peter Kohn Field, their conference trophy and their seemingly never-ending win streak. Updates to the leaderboard this year have continued to confirm the program’s hegemony, highlighting an ongoing undefeated record unlike any before by the NCAA.
However, Oct. 15 marked the end of an era; the Panther’s 42-game win streak, also a 51-game streak on Kohn Field at home, was struck down in a NESCAC matchup on senior day by No. 7 Trinity College.
A goal from Middlebury’s Amy Griffin’24.5 kept the Panthers in the game through the second half after an early lead by Trinity, but the Bantams took a 2–1 lead with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter. In their final effort to stay afloat, the Panther’s were unable to find the back of the goal despite five penalty corner opportunities in the final 1:08, solidifying a massive upset and many Middlebury players’ first loss in their college careers.
Both the Middlebury community and fans of NCAA DIII field hockey have focused heavily on adding another tally to the board: another win, another title, another broken record. However, according to senior and team captain Grace Murphy ’23, winning streaks are highly overstated when looking at a team’s postseason prospects.
“Keeping everyone’s focus off any score and instead on the quality of the game we are playing and doing the little things consistently well in practice has always been this team's approach,” she said.
To better understand what leadership looks like when faced with such a unique challenge, Murphy provided insight into the team’s outlook and messaging going forward.
“Throughout the past week Grace Harlan ’22.5, Riley Marchin ’22.5 and myself have been focusing on reminding the team why we’re all here,” Murphy said. “We’re here because we love the game. Remembering that we play for each other, for our coaches, for ourselves and for the joy that all that brings.”
The team is now focused on what’s ahead. The tradition of the program and their truly remarkable accomplishments so far this season seem to be only a glimpse of what this roster can do. From former NESCAC Rookies of the Year Katie George ’23.5 and Griffin to this year’s emerging stars on the astroturf, the team is packed with talent. Murphy was full of praise for everyone’s effort and commitment to the team and the game.
“This past week we got back to our basics and also remembered to not take ourselves so seriously,” she said.
The Panthers already have secured another decisive NESCAC victory since the loss, and it is clear that Murphy and her teammates are hopeful and hungry as postseason quickly approaches. The 4–0 shut-out against Tufts exhibited full confidence in all that makes Middlebury field hockey unique, highlighted by two goals from Caroline Segal ’24 and one save by goalie Harlan. The win also moved Harlan into second place in Middlebury’s all-time records with 19 shutouts.
The book may be closed on Middlebury’s longest ever win streak, but one thing holds true: there is plenty left to defend this season, and this team has all of the firepower and finesse they need to get it done.
Field hockey (14–1) faced their final regular season matchup against no. 10 Williams (11–4) Tuesday, Oct. 25 at Kohn Field. The team won 4–1. This was the team’s Pride home game, played in honor of athletes, fans, coaches and administrators who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.