Year in review: other colleges

A look back at the historic 2022 for some of the colleges and universities in our area
A look back at the historic 2022 for some of the colleges and universities in our area
Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 8:29 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - No matter the season, 2022 was the year of the Panther.

To cap off the winter portion of the schedule, the Middlebury women’s hockey team enjoyed an undefeated regular season, and used a conference championship crown to boast themselves into the national championship game on their home ice. Regulation proved to be not enough time, and after about 13 minutes of no goals in the extra frame, Ellie Barney said, ‘it’s party time.’ A rebound buried to give the panthers the national title, and secure the first perfect season in D3 women’s hockey history. Middlebury was just one of our local teams in the Frozen Four, though, as Plattsburgh State made an appearance after an overtime win over Colby in the quarterfinal round.

In their conference semifinals, it was rivalry night, as Castleton women’s hockey marched into Northfield and took down Norwich 1-0 with a lone third period goal, advancing to the NEHC finals.

The 40th team national title in Middlebury history would soon be added on to in the spring, as the Panthers’ women’s lacrosse team cruised into the national championship, winning every prior NCAA tournament game by double-digit goals. They’d get everything they could handle from Tufts, as they clung to a 6-4 lead entering the fourth, but a seven-goal explosion sealed the deal, giving Midd its third national crown in seven years.

Over at Norwich, the men’s lacrosse team reached the NCAA tournament for just the third time in program history, after a conference championship win on their home turf. The Cadets finished the year 19-2, the best mark ever for a men’s lacrosse squad in school history, and picked up the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament win.

On the diamond, the Panther baseball team punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament after a thrilling comeback in the NESCAC championship. Midd would give top-ranked Eastern Connecticut State all it could handle, but would bow out to the eventual national champs in the regional.

Summer came and went, and when students returned in the fall, Middlebury picked up right where it left off - winning. The Panther field hockey team claimed its fifth consecutive national championship after a 1-0 win over Johns Hopkins in OT. The team set program records for goals scored and shutouts on the year, and did not allow a single goal over the final 395 minutes of play of the season.

Just across campus at Alumni Stadium, legendary football coach Bob Ritter coached the final game of his career - transitioning to his new role of assistant athletic director, and handing the keys to the program over to fellow Middlebury graduate Doug Mandigo.

Norwich football improved its record from 2021, including a 3-2 record at home, and a Sap Bucket victory over Castleton for the fourth consecutive season. The Spartans responded to the loss, though, winning four of their final six games, to reach .500 for the second straight year.

Dartmouth took the field in 2022 defending its 20th Ivy League title, and opened the year with a big home win over Valparaiso. But a four-game losing streak would see things turn downhill. Five of the Big Green’s seven losses on the season came by just one possession, including two in overtime, but that’s just life sometimes in college football.

On the campus of St. Mike’s, the Purple Knights registered a huge win for more than one team, without even having to play a game, as Duffy Field saw permanent lights installed for the first time ever. The addition gives the fall and spring teams chances to experience night-game atmospheres, and flexibility when it comes to scheduling games and practices. Inside, the men’s hoops team has already matched last year’s win total, with a home conference game on New Year’s Eve providing a chance to secure their highest win total since 2015.

As the winter teams are now in full swing of their seasons, they hope to make enough noise to make their 2023 a year to remember, too.