The Middlebury field hockey team capped off a perfect season this past weekend to claim its fourth-consecutive Division III national championship, with North Kingstown product Katie George taking center stage for the invincible Panthers.
The former Skipper scored four goals over the course of the final four weekend, picking up a brace in Middlebury’s 4-1 semifinal triumph over Rowan on Saturday before once again notching a pair the next day as Johns Hopkins fell by the same score.
George opened the Panthers’ scoring in their semifinal meeting with the Profs, but it took her three attempts to strike the ball past Rowan goaltender Abby Hainsworth before achieving success at the 7:41 mark of the opening quarter.
Middlebury extended its lead 6:26 into the third courtesy of some deft stickwork from George, who eluded a Rowan defender and then proceeded to blast her shot over Hainsworth’s shoulder to double the advantage.
Against Johns Hopkinds in the finals, once again, it was George who made the breakthrough for the Panthers, receiving the ball from Audrey Lazar before firing past Bluejay netminder Alexis Loder to put Middlebury 1-0 ahead 8:39 into the game.
The Panthers added another goal to take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
George was then in the right place at the right time at the 8:49 mark of the third quarter, as Loder denied Lazar’s initial effort, but spilled the rebound in George’s direction to enable her to shoot past Loder for her second of the afternoon and Middlebury’s third. The Panthers went on to the 4-1 win and another title.
Middlebury finished the fall as the first school since Bowdoin in 2007 to claim a national championship with an unbeaten record, going 22-0 on their way to the program’s sixth title while also denying Johns Hopkins their own shot at running the table themselves.
Thanks to her fine play, George earned a spot on the all-tournament team, one of a pair of end-of-season honors she nabbed, as the National Field Hockey Coaches Association also selected her first-team all-region on Monday.
George closes the books on her 2021 season with 17 goals and three assists to her name, with the former figure being boosted by five multi-goal games, including a four-goal haul against Babson on Sept. 19.