Ephs prepared for another Middlebury match-up at NESCAC semifinals

Ephs prepared for another Middlebury match-up at NESCAC semifinals
HADLEY, Mass. – The top four seeds of the NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship won quarterfinal matches for the second time in three years. Tufts will host the remaining rounds of the tournament at Kraft Field on Saturday, November 9 and Sunday, November 10. The semifinal matches are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and the championship game is set for 12 p.m. on Sunday. The NESCAC Champion will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship.
 
 
No. 2 Middlebury (12-1-3) and No. 3 Williams (9-4-2) square off in the second semifinal at 1:30 p.m., a rematch of last year's national championship game, which the Ephs won in penalty kicks, 2-1. The two teams also played in the 2018 NESCAC championship game at Farley-Lamb Field in Williamstown, with Middlebury winning 1-0.  Williams is in the semifinals for the 13th-consecutive season following a 3-2 overtime victory over No. 6 Connecticut College. The Ephs are looking to reach the championship game for the third straight year and the 12th time in 13 seasons.
 
"Our team is excited to be playing in the NESCAC semifinal game this Saturday," Ephs' head coach Michelyne Pinard said. "We've worked hard all season to get to this point and I feel that we are hitting our stride at the exact right time. The team is playing with a lot of confidence right now and I think that could propel us this weekend against a very good Middlebury team. It's always a wonderfully enjoyable battle against Midd, win, lose or draw, and we'll be excited to compete for as long as we get to this fall."
 
Junior Victoria Laino leads the Ephs in scoring with 18 points on eight goals and two assists. Junior Georgia Lord scored one goal and helped set up the game-winner that deflected into the net off a Connecticut College defender in the quarterfinal win over the Camels. Senior Whitney Lincoln has played the majority of minutes in net for Williams and owns a 1.16 goals against average with a .814 save percentage. The Ephs have won eight NESCAC titles, their last coming in 2017. The Ephs are led by seniors Sarah Kelly and Nkem Iregbulem in the back, senior Erika Jung in the midfield and seniors Sara Scire and Alison Lu up front. 
 
Middlebury earned a spot in the semifinals for the sixth time in seven years with a 2-1 victory over No. 7 Wesleyan. Ellie Bavier's goal in the 77th minute proved to be the game-winner for the Panthers. Middlebury is tied with Amherst, allowing a league-low six goals, and has 11 shutouts. The Panthers are averaging 2.13 goals per game and are led by junior Simone Ameer's nine tallies. Senior Olivia Miller has added a team-high six assists and has 12 points. Senior Ursula Alwang has seen the majority of minutes in net and has seven wins, five shutouts, and a 0.44 goals against average, while junior Eva Shaw has played in eight games and is 5-0-1 between the pipes. She owns a .933 save percentage with a 0.19 goals against average. The Panthers are looking to repeat as NESCAC Champions for the first time in program history and pick up their fifth title overall.
 
Middlebury and Williams played to a scoreless draw on October 29. The Ephs are 6-3-3 in the 12 matches between the two teams in NESCAC Tournament play. The Panthers picked up their third win in the series in last year's championship match.
 
Tufts (12-2-2), the top-seed, is hosting the final rounds of the NESCAC Championship for the first time since 2005.  The Jumbos are in the semifinals for the third straight season after a 2-1 double-overtime victory over No. 8 Bowdoin. Sophie Lloyd scored her second straight overtime game-winner against the Polar Bears to give the Jumbos the victory. Tufts is 4-1-1 in its last six matches and is averaging 2.38 goals per game with a 0.60 goals against average. The junior duo of Liz Reed (9-7-25) and Lloyd (7-6-20) make up one of the most dynamic pair of forwards in the league. First-year goalkeeper Hayley Bernstein has played all but 45 minutes in net for the Jumbos and owns seven shutouts to go with a .865 save percentage. The Jumbos last played in the championship game in 2017 and are aiming for their second conference title after winning the NESCAC crown in 2002.
 
Tufts will host No. 4 Amherst (12-3-1) in the first semifinal, a matchup featuring the top two offenses remaining in the NESCAC Tournament. The Mammoths, who have shut out 12 of their 16 opponents this season, earned a 1-0 overtime victory against No. 5 Hamilton to reach the semifinals for the fourth year in a row. Junior Hannah Gustafson's first goal of the season 1:58 into extra time sealed the win for the Mammoths. Amherst has scored 41 goals (2.56 per game) and is tied for the league-low in goals allowed (6). Sophomore Alexa Juarez is tied for the league lead with 10 goals, including three game-winning tallies, and 22 points. Senior Erica Sanders and junior Antonia Tammaro share goalkeeping duties. Sanders is 7-0-0 with one goal allowed (0.15 GAA) in over 600 minutes of action, while Tammaro has started all 10 games she has appeared in and owns a .902 save percentage with a 0.56 goals against average. Amherst has four NESCAC titles and is looking to reach the championship game for the first time since 2016, when it won its last title.
 
Tufts posted a 2-1 victory over the Amherst on October 12 this year, but the Mammoths own a 1-0-1 edge in the NESCAC postseason series. Amherst prevailed in a penalty kick shootout over Tufts in the 2003 quarterfinals on its way to winning its second NESCAC title.
 
 
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