Third-ranked Middlebury raced out to a 10-2 halftime advantage, and withstood a comeback attempt by Tufts en route to a 12-8 victory Saturday. The game was the 500th of her career for Panther head coach Missy Foote. The contest at Bello Field marked the season and NESCAC opener for both squads. The Panthers return to the field next Saturday when they continue conference play on the road at Connecticut College at 12:00 p.m.
Middlebury scored nine of the game’s first 10 goals. The Panthers grabbed a 9-1 lead on a free-position score by Liza Herzog at 5:27 of the first half. Herzog, Laurel Pascal and Bridget Instrum all recorded two scores in the first half for Middlebury.
Kali DiGate had both Jumbo goals in the opening 30 minutes, as Middlebury possessed a 16-8 advantage in shots.
The Jumbos turned the game around in the second stanza and outshot Middlebury, 14-7. The Jumbos scored the first five goals and narrowed the gap to 10-7 on DiGate's third goal of the contest at 17:48. Five different Jumbos scored during the run, three on free-position shots. Caroline Ross, Annie Artz and Gabby Horner all scored in a span of 56 seconds.
Middlebury was able to stop the Jumbo momentum with back-to-back goals from Herzog and Katie Ritter and regained a five-goal advantage (12-7) with 13:34 remaining. The Panthers limited the Jumbos to just one goal from that point on in the victory.
Ritter and Instrum each had two goals joining Herzog and Pascal as multi-goal scorers for Middlebury. The Panthers held an 18-6 advantage on ground balls, including four by Erin Benotti. Catherine Fowler won six of the Middlebury's 12 draw controls. Benotti led the visiting side with three caused turnovers.
Tufts was paced by three goals from DiGate. Ross added two goals and an assist. Horner assisted twice and scored once for the Jumbos.
In addition to leading Tufts in goals, DiGate also had a team-best three ground balls and caused two turnovers. Eliza Halmo led Tufts with four caused turnovers while Ross took five draw controls. Tufts’ Rachel Gallimore finished with six saves in front of the net.
Herzog led Middlebury with three goals and an assist, while Pascal had two goals and an assist. Alyssa Palomba made 10 saves in the Panther cage, five in each half.
Middlebury owned a slight edge in shots, 23-22.