MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Middlebury's Emily Fluke scored two goals to lead the top-seeded Panthers to a 4-2 NESCAC Semifinal win Saturday over #5 seed Bowdoin inside Chip Kenyon Arena. Third-ranked Middlebury (20-3-3), who advances to Sunday's championship game at 2:00 p.m., will play the winner of #2 seed Amherst and #3 seed Trinity in a game to be played later today. The Panthers will be in search of their eighth conference title, while Bowdoin ends its season at 11-10-5.
In the first period off a faceoff with 8:20 left, Katie Mandigo looked to put the hosts on the board. She laced a lefthanded shot that Bowdoin goalie Lan Crofton slid to her right and kicked away with her pad. A little more than eight minutes later at 16:33 with Middlebury on the powerplay, Hannah Bielawski ripped a shot from the right point that found the back of the net on stick-to-stick passes across the blue line from Carly Watson and Jessica Young.
At 4:15 of the middle period, Fluke doubled the Panther lead. Janka Hlinka won the puck behind the Polar Bear goal, fed a nifty pass to Young who flew by her. Young centered a pass on the doorstep to Fluke, who one-timed the puck into the upper portion of the net. For the period, the Panthers held a 12-4 edge in shots on goal.
In the third period, the teams traded goals with Middlebury scoring first and Bowdoin quickly answering. Elizabeth Wulf put the Panthers ahead by a 3-0 count at 5:54 with a quick wrister from just inside the right dot. Just 27 seconds later, Bowdoin cut the deficit to 3-1 when Colleen Finnerty collected a rebound on the doorstep and scored off a shot from the left side by Schuyler Nardelli.
At the 9:01 mark of the period, Fluke scored her second of the game. Watson laced a shot from the left point which was saved. Crofton was unsure where the puck ended up on the rebound, and Fluke pounced on it and tapped it in. A little under a minute later, Bowdoin's Miranda Bell scored the Polar Bears' second tally of the game when she jumped on a rebound following a shot in transition from Chelsea MacNeil.
With both sides trading scoring chances in the final minutes, Bowdoin pulled Crofton with 1:42 remaining but weren't able to pull any closer as the hosts advanced to Sunday's championship game for the 10th time in conference tournament history.
For the contest, Middlebury held a 29-21 advantage in shots as Madeline Marsh tallied 19 saves for the win, while Crofton was credited with 25 stops.
With her goal and assist today, Bielawski has now amassed 97 career points with 27 goals and 70 assists.