Darien’s Baker, Middlebury field hockey to play in NCAA final four this weekend

Middlebury College junior Marissa Baker of Darien in action with the Panthers. — Middlebury Athletics photo

Darien’s Marissa Baker and the Middlebury College Panthers will be bidding for a second consecutive NCAA Div. III field hockey championship when they play in the final four this weekend in Manheim, Penn.

The Panthers, who have won national titles in two of the past three seasons, are 19-1 this season with the only loss coming to Williams in the regular season finale. Middlebury bounced back to defeat Colby 5-2, Trinity College 1-0, and Tufts 1-0 to win the 2018 NESCAC championship.

Middlebury will face Rowan (22-0) in the national semifinals at 2 p.m., Saturday, at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex. The other semifinal will pit Tufts (18-2) against Johns Hopkins (19-2) at 11 a.m.

The NCAA Div. III championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m., Sunday.

All three games of the final four will be streamed live at ncaa.com.

Baker, a junior midfielder, was one of four Panthers who were named to the All-NESCAC First Team. She ranks third on the team in goals with nine, and also has four assists in 15 games played.

Baker was a big part of Middlebury’s 5-1 victory over The College of New Jersey in the regional final on Sunday, scoring once and dishing out two assists. She set up Emma Johns for the game’s opening goal at 2:27, as the Panthers scored three times in the first 10 minutes.

As the NESCAC champion, Middlebury received the a first-round bye and then blanked Keene State 8-0 in the second round on Oct. 10.

The Panthers have reached the national finals seven times in the 19 years of the tournament, winning championships in 1998, 2015, and 2017.