MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury field hockey team captured its fourth-straight Division III NCAA Championship with a 4-1 victory over second-ranked Johns Hopkins on Sunday.

The top-ranked Panthers became the first team to win four consecutive titles, taking home the program’s sixth overall title. Middlebury finishes the season with a perfect 22-0 mark, improving its unbeaten streak to 30 straight games and 16 straight in NCAA tournament play. The Blue Jays conclude the season with an impressive 21-1 mark, with their only loss coming in their first NCAA Championship appearance.

Middlebury opened the scoring at the 8:39 mark of the first quarter. Audrey Lazar carried the ball from the right corner into the circle. Johns Hopkins goalie Alexis Loder layed out to deny a shot, but got tangled up in a few players. Lazar worked to free the ball, before Katie George tipped it into the cage to make it 1-0.

The Panthers increased their lead to 2-0 when Erin Nicholas converted a penalty stroke, burying the ball in the bottom-left corner with 13:53 expired.

Out of the intermission, Johns Hopkins had possession for much of the third quarter, but were unable to score.

The Panthers made it 3-0 at the 38:49 mark. An initial shot by Lazar was kicked away by Loder, but George was there to backhand the rebound into the cage for her 17th goal of the season and fourth of the weekend.

Middlebury added an insurance goal with 48:56 elapsed on a penalty corner set piece. Joan Vera inserted the ball, before Nicholas stopped it and fired a shot into the cage to make it 4-0. The tally was Nicholas’ 65th career goal.

The Blue Jays spoiled the shutout with three minutes remaining in the contest when Tessa Erickson collected a loose ball after a scramble in front of the net, slipping the ball past Harlan for the 4-1 final score.

Nicholas was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, while also earning a spot on the all-tournament team. She tallied four goals over the weekend, finishing her career with 161 points (65G, 31A). Nicholas also moved into third on Middlebury’s all-time list with a career-high 64 points during the 2021 campaign. Her 28th career tally moved her into third on the single-season list.

Also earning a spot on the all-tournament team was George, Vera and Amy Griffin.

The last time a team went unbeaten in Division III was back in 2007 when Bowdoin went 20-0. The victory marked just the ninth time a team finished with an perfect record.

George and Nicholas also had two goals apiece on Saturday in Middlebury’s 4-1 semifinal win against Rowan.

MEN’S SOCCER

Midd falls in quarters

AMHERST, Mass. — The Middlebury men’s soccer team saw its quest for the program’s second trip to the NCAA Semifinals come to an end, as the Panthers dropped a 1-0 decision at No. 19 Amherst (16-2-2) on Sunday.

Amherst’s German Giammattei scored the game’s lone goal with 1:43 left until halftime.

Middlebury mounted a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over John Carroll on Saturday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jordan Saint-Louis and Aiden Pape scored for Middlebury in the win.

The Panthers finished season with a 13-5-3 mark.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY

Midd 6, Conn. College 0

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s Bill Mandigo became the first coach at any NCAA level to reach the 600-win plateau, as the Panthers (2-0-0, 2-0-0) skated to a 6-0 triumph over visiting Connecticut College (0-2-0, 0-2-0) on Saturday.

Mandigo, who is in his 34th season, has a record of 600-158-48 for a lofty .774 winning percentage.

Madie Leidt paced the Panthers with a hat trick.

Follow on Twitter: @AAucoin_RH

adam.aucoin@rutlandherald.com

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