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Monday, May 20, 2024

Road to Newport News: a look into field hockey’s post-season success and what comes next

The field hockey team has won five national in succession. Courtesy of Patrick Bethelette.
The field hockey team has won five national in succession. Courtesy of Patrick Bethelette.

After an impressive NESCAC championship win on Nov. 5, the Middlebury field hockey team is showing no signs of slowing down as they cruised through the opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament this past weekend. Confidence in the team was high already after the Panthers made a win over ninth-ranked Williams look easy in the conference final, but after two rounds there is even more reason to believe the team can capture its eighth national title in Newport News, Va. 

The Panthers kicked off the tournament with wins against Williams Smith College and Messiah University. The Panthers blanked their opponents with scores of 7–0 and 3–0, respectively, but spectators and players of both games know the scores could have been even higher. 

“The box score of either game does not tell the full story,” said Caroline Segal ’24.5, who recorded nine shots over the two games. 

Although both their opponents showed real grit — particularly Messiah, who held the Panthers to just one goal until the fourth quarter — Middlebury walked away with a decisive win on both days. Stand-out performances by Audrey Lazar ’23.5 (3 goals, 5 shots), Hanna Medwar ’25 (1 goal, 2 assists), and Katie George ’23.5 (3 goals, 1 assist) were pivotal to the Panthers' impressive strides in the initial rounds. 

The final prep has now begun as the Panthers head to the Final Four hosted by Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. As they seek to claim their hardware at the end of the NCAA rainbow, Middlebury will face No. 2 ranked Babson College in the NCAA Semifinals on Friday, Nov. 17. Despite Middlebury’s undefeated record this season (20–0) and tradition of success in crunch time, this game will be no easy feat. Babson’s only loss on the season was against Middlebury earlier this season, in their most recent matchup on Sep. 17, where the Panthers earned a closely-contested 3–2 victory over the Beavers. 

Middlebury will look to finish what they started this year, seeking to convert an unbeaten regular season record into yet another trophy. A battle of the top two seeds in the semifinal matchup does not ensure a smooth path to victory, but the Panthers have proved that they are ready to step up in the Final Four and are hungry to return home with a sixth consecutive national championship win.

Middlebury Field Hockey takes on the Babson College Beavers in the NCAA National Semifinals this Friday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m.