The Panthers began their quest for a third-straight NCAA title as they welcomed Babson for a second round contest at Kohn Field Saturday afternoon.
Middlebury found itself in a 1-0 hole after the first quarter, but Erin Nicholas, the NESCAC player of the year, evened the score as she whacked in a goal with 5:25 left in the second quarter.
Then with eight seconds to go before halftime, the Panthers took the lead when Marissa Baker sliced a pass to the middle of the cage where Julia Richards poked the ball past the keeper and into the net.
Richards’s goal was the difference-maker as Middlebury walked away with a 2-1 win.
The Panthers will play Kean in the regional final on Sunday, November 17 at 1 p.m.