Leonard tops for Middlebury

Panthers senior leader is second all-time in scoring

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Annie Leonard climbs to near the top of the team goal scoring chart.

COLLEGE FIELD HOCKEY

At Middlebury, Annie Leonard’s meant a lot.

“She’s a returning All-American, she’s been one of our leading scorers in her career,” said Middlebury coach Katharine DeLorenzo, who recently had her 350th career win. “So she’s been a very central figure in our program.”

There’s definitely a lot of pressure, but I think I take that pressure and turn it into positive energy.

— Annie Leonard

And the senior Leonard’s scored, an awful lot.

“I try to do what I can to be a leader,” said Leonard (GA 2014). “In terms of goal-scoring, I’m in a lucky spot most of the time.”

But her game is ruled by more than serendipity and horseshoes.

Leonard’s goal, and assist, in a 7-0 win over Husson on Sunday put her into second place all-time in Middlebury scoring with 67 goals-scored, surpassing an 18-year-old mark of 66.

“Annie is a true goal-scorer,” said DeLorenzo. “And also an incredibly composed and cerebral player. She’s wise, she’s thoughtful.”

And she’s valuable in spreading it around.

“She is helping this team really build itself into a formidable group,” DeLorenzo said.

Division III Middlebury (11-2) has won seven straight and is ranked No. 3 nationally.

“We take it day by day, that’s all I can say,” Leonard said.

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The senior Leonard leads the Panthers into a promising post-season.

The Panthers are first in the NESCAC, where Leonard was named conference Player of the Week in early October, when she scored three goals which were a big help with a pair of wins on the road.

She scored and had an assist in the Panthers’ 3-2 victory against fourth-ranked Tufts, plus scored twice including the game-winner in a 3-0 win at Wesleyan in that span.

“She’s skillful,” added DeLorenzo. “She doesn’t overplay her space. And she really reads defenses well.”

Leonard has 10 goals and six assists in 13 games.

“There’s definitely a lot of pressure, but I think I take that pressure and turn it into positive energy,” Leonard said. “And to just be the spark on the field where I can and whenever I can.

“It’s motivation for me. And it’s exciting.”

The Bigger Picture

Like with many things, it’s the anticipation that brings the excitement to a boil.

“I mean the goals are obviously exciting, but it’s more so the play that leads up to that, goal” she said. “You know, when it’s just a perfect string of passes, or when it’s a corner play executed just perfectly, I think that’s the most exciting part; the bigger picture.”

The tying goal against Tufts fits the description.

Marissa Baker (DHS 2016, Middlebury ’20) actually had the assist on that one,” Leonard said. “But it was a new corner play that we had been working on in practice. And she just slipped a perfect pass to me on the left and I set it up, and just, hit it and hit the back of the cage.”

“She applies herself in a way that works,” DeLorenzo said. “She’s a silent but deadly kind of forward.”

Silent, until the ball smacks the back of the net.

Baker will be featured here on Oct. 26