Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Middlebury Campus
Saturday, Dec 9, 2023

Winter sports teams begin their playoff push

<p>Men’s basketball (19–5) huddles together during their thrilling 89–80 loss to Tufts.</p>

Men’s basketball (19–5) huddles together during their thrilling 89–80 loss to Tufts.

After long seasons that began last November, Middlebury’s winter sports teams embark on their postseason schedules and look to bring championship trophies back to campus. Some teams’ playoffs have already started while others will begin their quests for championships in the coming weeks. The Campus sports team put together a record of how the winter sports teams fare going into the most crucial part of the season.

Alpine and Nordic Skiing:

Both the alpine and nordic teams experienced wonderful seasons. This past weekend both teams placed third at the Williams Carnival. With the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Championships set to take place on Feb. 24 and 25 in Lake Placid, N.Y., the Panthers look to win the championship. Depending on performances at the EISA Championships, the Panthers could compete in the NCAA Skiing Championships on March 8-11, also in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Women’s Basketball (15–10):

The women’s basketball team beat Hamilton 66–52 at home this past weekend in the first round of the NESCAC tournament. Alexa Mustafaj ’25 continued her dominant season, scoring 30 points and grabbing four steals. Mustafaj is averaging 21.9 points per game this year, and if she maintains her current form, the Panthers will be tough to beat on their path to a NESCAC title. The Panthers will head to Tufts this weekend for the NESCAC tournament semifinals. If women’s basketball wins the NESCAC tournament, they guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA Championships.

Men’s Basketball (19–5):

After a fantastic season, the men’s basketball team fell short of their hopes to win a NESCAC Championship, losing to Tufts 89–80 in double overtime. The game, a thriller and instant classic, saw 12 lead changes and gritty performances from both sides. However, Tufts’ ability to hold Middlebury’s star forward Alex Sobel ’23 to only 16 points — still an impressive total — may have made the difference in this game. The men’s team’s season may not be over yet. The team, which is ranked 18th in the country right now, hopes to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament despite their early exit from the NESCAC tournament this season.

Women’s Ice Hockey (15–6–3):

Rounding out the regular season with winning records in and out of conference, the No. 4 women’s ice hockey now sets their sights on the NESCAC Championships as they host No. 5 Connecticut College this weekend. In their quest to repeat the meteoric success of last year, the Panthers have the perfect opportunity to reassert their dominance against a Camels squad that held them to a tie and loss in New London, Conn. back in January. With the majority of last year’s roster returning to the big dance, this match promises to be a thriller for the ages. Future home games will be determined by Friday’s results and opponents’ seedings.

Men’s Ice Hockey (5–18–1):

The 2022-2023 campaign was a forgettable one for the men’s hockey team. The team finished ninth in the NESCAC, just missing the eight team playoffs. Despite a disappointing season in terms of results, the men’s hockey team is young and could fare better in future seasons. Four of the five leaders in points on the team will be on the roster next season, setting up a men’s team that could potentially make major improvements.

Women’s Swim and Dive (4–4):

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Middlebury Campus delivered to your inbox

The women’s swimming and diving team finished in fifth place out of the eleven teams competing at the NESCAC championships on the weekend of Feb. 11. Only Ella Caddeau ’25 finished on the podium, coming in third place in the 50 meter backstroke. The NCAA Championships will take place from March 15–18; the athletes that qualified for the tournament have not been announced yet.

Men’s Swim and Dive (4–4):

The men’s swimming and diving team landed in seventh place this past weekend at the NESCAC championships which were hosted by Wesleyan. Despite a mediocre team performance, the Panthers saw some impressive individual performances. Jason Rickenbacher ’23 earned third place in the one meter dive, Riley Griffis ’24 came in second place in the 200 meter freestyle and Sam Hughes ’25 scored a third place in the 200 meter backstroke. Just like the women’s team, NCAA Championships will take place from March 15–18 with qualifying athletes to be announced shortly.

Women’s Squash (9–6):

After a disappointing 6–3 loss to Amherst in the first round of the NESCAC Championships, the women’s squash team quickly rebounded and won the Kurtz Cup in the College Squash Association (CSA) Championships this past weekend. There are four different tournaments hosted during the CSA Championships, and Middlebury’s women's team won the Kurtz Cup, the third most difficult tournament.

Men’s Squash (9–6):

After a six game win streak to start the season, the men’s squash team lost momentum towards the end of the season and made an early exit in the NESCAC tournament, losing to Tufts 8–1. Still, the men’s team will look to follow the women’s team’s lead and rebound at the CSA Championships. The men’s championship will be hosted this weekend at Trinity.

Indoor Track:

After a strong indoor track season that saw athletes like Marco Motroni ’25 and Cady Barnes ’25 break school records, the track and field team will compete in the Division III New England Championships this weekend, hosted at The Track at New Balance. Based on future results, some members of the team will be able to compete at NCAA Indoor Championships which are set to take place on March 10 and 11 in Birmingham, Ala.