BABSON PARK, Mass.—The defense for No. 7 Babson College limited the potent offense of Middlebury College to nine shots below its season average but the top-ranked Panthers proved too strong and posted a 4-0 victory over the Beavers in non-conference field hockey action on Sunday afternoon at MacDowell Field.
Babson, which suffered its second loss of the year to a nationally ranked team, falls to 4-2 overall, while Middlebury, the four-time defending Division III champions, improves to 5-0 with its 35th consecutive victory dating back to 2019.
The Beavers held the visitors to 19 shots but managed just two of their own, one apiece by seniors Amber Rose (Falmouth, Maine) and Isabelle Fournier (West Kingston, RI). Sophomore goalkeeper Bayla Furmanek (State College, Pa.) held down the fort and recorded five saves in the setback.
Sophomore Lilly Branka (Medfield, Mass.) scored a career-high three goals for the Panthers, matching her season total for last season, and senior Grace Murphy (Fairfield, Conn.) added a goal and an assist. Junior Meg Shelburne (Houston, Texas) and sophomore Amy Griffin (Wilmette, Ill.) also recorded assists and senior goalkeeper Grace Harlan (Groton, Mass.) made two saves for her second shutout this season.
The Panthers jumped on top in just the third minute of the game on a penalty corner. Shelburne took a pass on the right side and fired a ball towards the far post, but Branka tipped the ball in front past Furmanek for her first goal of the season. Middlebury outshot the home team 7-0 in the first quarter but had to settle for the one-goal lead.
The visitors doubled their advantage midway through the second quarter when Griffin took the feed off a penalty corner, did a 360-move around a defender as she dribbled to her left and lofted a backhander towards the goal, where Branka redirected the ball in midair for here second of the game.
Babson had a solid attempt to cut into the margin less than a minute later when Rose put a strong shot on net off a penalty corner, but Harlan made the save and Middlebury took a 2-0 lead into the break.
Murphy extended the Panthers’ lead to 3-0 just a minute and a half into the third quarter. Middlebury broke up a Babson clear attempt and Murphy picked up a loose ball just inside the circle and fired one past Furmanek. Branka finished off her hat trick three and a half minutes later with another redirect off a diagonal cross from Murphy.
The best second-half chance for the Beavers came late in the third quarter on a penalty corner, but a tough-angle shot by Fournier from the left side was kicked away by Harlan.
Middlebury had five more penalty corners in the fourth quarter but could not convert as the Panthers finished with a 14-4 advantage in corners for the game.
After playing four of their first six games at home, the Beavers play their next four on the road, beginning Thursday at Skidmore at 4 pm Middlebury continues its eight-game road string to start the season Saturday at Bowdoin and Sunday at Bates.
• Babson is now 1-10 all-time against Middlebury.
• The Beavers are now 2-2 this season against teams from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with two more to follow against No. 4 Tufts and Wesleyan.
• Middlebury held the Beavers to their fewest shots in a game since Babson managed just one shot in a 2-1 setback to the Panthers on November 16, 2019 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.