MIDDLEBURY-Middlebury College advanced to the NESCAC championship for the seventh time after a 4-0 semifinal shutout over Bowdoin. The fifth-ranked Panthers (20-4-1) advance to Sunday's championship game at 2 p.m. against Amherst, while the Polar Bears finish their season at 15-9-2. Middlebury netminder Alexi Bloom improved on her school single-season record with her 10th shutout (17 saves) of the season.
The first period saw Middlebury with two missed power play opportunities, ending the period with a 9-7 shots advantage. Bowdoin had its best chance to score at the 16:30 mark, but Kayte Holtz was robbed from the slot on a great glove save from Bloom.
The Panthers struck just 3:23 into the second period, with Heather Marrison netting her fourth of the season. Julia Ireland worked the puck behind the net, before finding Marrison in the high slot for a quick wrister. Middlebury scored again at the 9:27 mark, when Jennifer Krakower slid a quick pass to Maggie Melberg for her fifth of the year. The Panthers netted their third of the period with 5:41 remaining as Maggie Woodward took advantage of a turnover and scored with a wrister breaking to the goal. Bowdoin netminder Tara Connolly (34:19, 3 GA, 16 saves) was replaced by Kayla Lessard following the goal.
The lead grew to 4-0 at the 5:51 mark of the third period, with a power play tally from Lauren Greer. Madison Styrbicki earned her team-leading 16th assist of the season, as her shot from the point was saved by Lessard (12 saves). Greer pounced on the rebound and potted her 12th of the year, tying her for the team-lead with Ireland.
Middlebury ended the game with a 33-17 shots advantage, earning its 12th win in the last 13 games.