Ephs set to play for NESCAC Tournament Championship; will face Tufts in semifinals

Ephs set to play for NESCAC Tournament Championship; will face Tufts in semifinals

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — The No. 12-ranked Williams College field hockey team takes to the road Saturday to battle for the 2018 NESCAC Tournament championship. 

The Ephs (12-4) defeated Bowdoin 3-2 in a tournament quarterfinal last weekend after dispatching then No. 1 and unbeaten Middlebury, 4-2, earlier in the week. Williams will take on Tufts (15-1) in the NESCAC semifinals Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Middlebury (15-1) faces Trinity (12-4) in the other semifinal at 11 a.m. Saturday. The two semifinal winners will meet Sunday at 12 p.m. for the NESCAC Championship. 

Here's a closer look at the four teams participating this weekend.

No. 3 Williams (12-4) is in the NESCAC Tournament for the eighth straight season, advancing to the semifinals for the third consecutive season with a 3-2 quarterfinal victory over No. 6 Bowdoin. Williams owns one of the top offenses in the league, scoring 46 goals this season. Senior Libby Dolan (Barrington, R.I.) is tied for sixth in the NESCAC in scoring with a team-high 28 points and 13 goals. Senior Meredith Wright (Duxbury, Mass.) ranks second in the conference with 11 assists. Junior Abby Lloyd (Hightstown, N.J.) and senior Emma Santucci (Rye, N.Y.) have split time in goal for the Ephs this season and have nearly identical goals against averages of 1.49 and 1.53, respectively. Tufts owns a 3-1 edge over Williams in NESCAC Tournament play. The two teams last met in the 2016 semifinals, with the Jumbos earning a 5-0 victory. The Jumbos were victorious against the Ephs in the regular-season contest at Tufts less than two weeks ago, winning 2-0.

Tufts (15-1), the No. 2 seed, defeated No. 7 Amherst, 2-0, in the quarterfinals to earn a semifinal berth for the fifth time in seven years. The Jumbos own two NESCAC titles, winning a championship in 2009 and 2016. Tufts boasts a solid defense, with a 0.56 goals against average and allowing nine goals this season. The Jumbos have won seven straight games, including six by shutout. Senior Gigi Tutoni (Newtown, Pa.) is the team's leading scorer with 10 goals, including five game-winners, and 20 points, while junior Marguerite Salamone(Yardley, Pa.) has handed out a team-best six assists. First-year Andie Stallman (Providence, R.I.) has played every game in the cage during Tufts' current seven-game win streak, allowing one goal. Tufts' lone setback this season was a 2-1 overtime loss at Middlebury.

No. 1 Middlebury (15-1) advanced to the semifinals for the eighth straight season following a 5-2 victory over No. 8 Colby. The Panthers have appeared in all 18 NESCAC Championships and have advanced to the finals seven straight years, claiming five titles, including last year's crown. The Panthers possess a potent offense, averaging a league-best 4.6 goals per game. Sophomore Erin Nicholas (Scarsdale, N.Y.) leads Middlebury and ranks fourth in the NESCAC in scoring with 32 points on 12 goals and eight assists. Senior Grace Jennings (Ghent, N.Y.) has also chipped in 27 points on 11 goals and five assists. Nicholas and Jennings have combined for six game-winning goals for Middlebury. The Panther defense is allowing 1.06 goals per game and has posted seven shutouts this season. Middlebury's lone loss was a 4-2 setback at Williams in the final game of the regular season.
 
No. 5 Trinity (12-4) earned a spot in the tournament field for the 13th consecutive season. The Bantams posted a 2-0 victory at No. 4 Hamilton in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals for the second year in a row. Trinity looks to make a return trip to the championship game as it searches for its first NESCAC title. The Bantams have a stingy defense, allowing a league-low eight goals and boasting a 0.50 goals against average. Senior goalkeeper Lori Berger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) has a league-best 10 shutouts and a .882 save percentage. On offense, senior Chandler Solimine (Pelham, N.Y.) is tied for fourth in the NESCAC in scoring with 32 points on 12 goals and eight assists. Middlebury is 3-1 against Trinity in the NESCAC Tournament, including the win in the 2017 championship game. On October 13, at Trinity, the Panthers posted a 2-0 victory.
 
Results for the NESCAC Field Hockey Championship will be available at the completion of each day on NESCAC.com.
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