MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- No. 1 nationally ranked Middlebury tallied two goals in the first half and added one in the second for a 3-0 victory over the Bates field hockey team in NESCAC play Saturday on Kohn Field.
The victory was the 30th straight triumph for the Panthers (14-0, 9-0), while the Bobcats dip to 6-8 and 2-7 in the league standings. The win also clinched the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament for the Panthers, giving them home-field advantage throughout the championship event.
Bates (6-8, 2-7 NESCAC) will host Colby (7-6, 3-6 NESCAC) on Wednesday at 6pm on Campus Avenue Field, with the eighth and final berth in next weekend's NESCAC Tournament on the line.
Middlebury jumped out to the early lead just 44 seconds into the contest on a penalty corner. Marissa Baker blasted a shot from the top of the arc that was tipped in on the left post by Isabel Chandler for her third tally of the season. Baker nearly doubled the Middlebury lead three minutes later on a penalty corner, but her shot from the top hit the left post and bounced away.
The Bobcats' best chance of the half came in the sixth minute when a shot from sophomore Meaghan Waldron (Darien, Conn.) was saved by Panther goalie Megan Collins' pads. Middlebury grabbed a 2-0 advantage at the 14:11 mark, as Grace Jennings raced down the left side of the field. She sent a pass toward Molly Freeman, who redirected it in for her eighth score of the fall.
After the halftime break, the visitors produced their best opportunity of the half when senior Emma Patterson (Denver, Colo.) fired a shot from point-blank range, but Collins denied the bid with her right pad. On its ensuing possession, Middlebury tacked on an insurance goal at 49:12 when Erin Nicholas batted a loose ball out of the air and into the goal for her ninth tally of the season. Bates had one final bid in the closing minutes, but junior Grace Fitzgerald's (Larchmont, N.Y.) shot was blocked for the final 3-0 score.
Collins improved to 14-0 with a pair of saves for the Panthers, while first-year Ellie Bauer (Denver, Colo.) recorded a season-high 10 saves for Bates. Middlebury finished with a 19-4 advantage in shots and held a 10-6 edge in penalty corners.