North Kingstown alumna Katie George and the Middlebury field hockey team’s drive for five reached its successful end on Sunday as the Panthers added yet another piece of hardware to an overflowing trophy case by defeating Johns Hopkins 1-0 in overtime in the Division III national championship.
Amy Griffin scored the national championship-clinching goal 7:27 into the first sudden-death period, with her effort on the cage finding its way past Bluejay goaltender Alexis Loder via a deflection off a defender.
It was a just reward for a Middlebury squad that had been knocking on the door throughout overtime, as five of their nine total shots for the contest came after regulation time had expired.
The Panthers had a pair of golden opportunities to bring proceedings to an earlier halt, but Loder turned away a back-hander from Griffin before doing likewise to a Sadie LeStage one-timer off the rebound from Griffin’s initial attempt.
George was kept in check by the Johns Hopkins defensive corps throughout the afternoon, with the junior forward failing to record a shot and having to find a different way to contribute to the cause.
With 6:13 remaining in the third quarter, the former Skipper branched out and put her body on the line, blocking an effort from the stick of the Bluejays’ Ava Balacek that was heading towards the target.
Two days earlier, Middlebury booked its spot in the national championship game by blanking Rowan 4-0 on the strength of a hat-trick from Audrey Lazar, who put the Panthers on the path to victory with a pair of markers in the opening quarter.
Middlebury’s route to yet another crown was built at both ends of the field, as they scored 107 goals this fall while also pitching 13 shutouts to establish new single-season program records in both statistical categories.
Nearly half of the goose eggs laid by the opposition came when the lights were shining brightest, as the Panthers finished the campaign with six consecutive clean sheets dating back to their November 5 meeting with Williams in the NESCAC semifinals.
Despite not scoring during championship weekend, George concluded 2022 by finishing second on the Middlebury goalscoring chart, reaching double figures for the third straight season with 17 tallies.
In addition, she was credited with the game-winning goal on a team-best five occasions while also contributing a career-high six assists to double her output from her freshman and sophomore years.
Poirier helps UNH to CAA crown
Dylan Poirier can now call himself a co-champion and a drought-breaker, with the North Kingstown product earning both sobriquets this past weekend as New Hampshire earned a share of the Colonial Athletic Association championship.
The ex-Skipper has been a fixture on the Wildcat offensive line this fall, starting all 11 games for a team that ended an eight-year wait for a conference title and will be playing in the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs for the first time since 2017 this weekend.
UNH will be hosting Fordham in the first round this Saturday afternoon, with the winner making the journey to Worcester the following week to tangle with unbeaten Patriot League champion Holy Cross.
Poirier and his teammates will be entering their meeting with the Rams on the heels of a 42-41 overtime victory over Maine that concluded with the Wildcats’ Bryce Shaw picking off a pass from Joe Fagnano on a game-deciding two-point conversion attempt.