MIDDLEBURY, VT- The #7 ranked Ephs (13-3, 7-3 NESCAC) fell to NESCAC rival #2 ranked Middlebury (14-1, 9-1 NESCAC) 2-1 in their final regular-season game. The Ephs will host the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC tournament this weekend at Williamson Field.
The Ephs started the first half with early possession and an early threat from Emma Ticknor '20 who fired the ball at Panther keeper Grace Harlan, who knocked the shot away at 1:32. From there. the Panthers lead the momentum down the field. Danielle Brown took control of the ball and attempted a shot at the goal, but a simultaneous defensive play by Marrissa Feller '20 and foul on keeper Abby Lloyd '20 resulted in a penalty shot for the Panthers (4:15). Erin Nicholas would take the shot for the Panthers, firing the shot past the pad of Lloyd to put the Panthers up 1-0 (4:22).
The Ephs rallied back for a penalty corner at 8:52 and Emily Batchelor '23 found Ticknor in the circle who fired another hard shot at the goal, but Harlan stepped in front of the ball to maintain the Panther lead (9:05).
The Panthers quickly regained possession of the ball and tested Lloyd with another shot by Nicholas, but Lloyd quickly kicked the ball out (10:55). The Ephs and Panthers fought for possession in the midfield for the rest of the half, with no further shots from either squad.
The Ephs lead the momentum in the second half, notching an early penalty corner at 16:47. Catherine Torres '23 would take the corner for the Ephs, finding Elizabeth Welch '22 on the side of the circle, who sent a shot toward the goal that was blocked by a Panther defender (16:50). Ticknor picked up the rebounded shot and fired the ball into the back of the net to connect for the tying goal., bringing the score to an even 1-1 (16:55).
The Panthers looked to answer back with a shot from Grace Murphy at 19:23, but keeper Lloyd was solid in the box and kicked the shot away before a foul against the Ephs produced a penalty corner for the Panthers (19:27). Marissa Baker found a shot after taking the initial pass in but was stopped by the pad of Lloyd (19:28).
The Ephs had another opportunity with a penalty corner at 21:14, but the pass out from Torres was swept up by Panther defenders. A battle of defense would end the first half, as the teams entered halftime tied 1-1.
Into the second half, the Ephs had an early opportunity with a penalty corner at 33:56 but were unable to find a clear shot at the goal. The Panthers gained possession quickly after, notching their own penalty corner at 34:58. Isabel Chandler would take the corner for the Panthers, finding Emma Johns at the top of the box. Johns found Nicholas close to the goal, who sent a hard shot ball between the legs of Lloyd to put the Panthers up 2-1.
With the lead in hand, the Panthers put the defensive pressure on the Ephs, ensuring no opportunities in the circle were given to the Eph offense. Into the 4th quarter, the Eph squad fought back hard, gaining possession several times but unable to get into the circle to make a grab for the needed goal. The Panthers threatened to extend the lead late in the game with a penalty corner and converted shot by Johns, but the Eph defense was quick to clear the deflected shot from Lloyd out of the circle (56:14). The Eph defense played a strong final quarter, keeping the Panther penalty corners away from scoring positions, but the pressure from the Panther defense quenched the Eph threat until the final seconds ticked down.
With the loss, the Ephs ended the regular season in 4th place in the NESCAC conference with a 7-3 conference record and will host the quarterfinal of the NESCAC tournament this upcoming weekend at Williamson Field. The time and opponent of the match will be announced later this week.