By Michael T. Bello
Published Sep 11, 2009 at 12:00 PM ET; Updated Sep 10, 2009 at 7:08 PM ET

middleburyMiddlebury, VT — The Middlebury Panthers are hoping to move up in the rankings this season.  If the past few seasons are any indication, a rise in the rankings is likely to occur.  Coach John Illig, the 2009 NESCAC Coach of the Year, helped the team improve five spots, 18th to 13th, in his first two years with the Panthers.

“Bowdoin and Mount Holyoke were the two teams ahead of us, so we’ll be pushing to compete well against them,” says Illig.  “Some quality teams that’ll be coming up hard behind us are Amherst, F&M, Hamilton and George Washington.  It should be a very competitive season.”

Although the team graduated Sally Hatfield and Caroline Woodworth, its first and fourth ranked players, the squad returns seven players from last season’s ladder. First-year players Molly Hubbard and Annie Ulrich will be competing for spots in the starting line-up.

Avery Tilney, Ashley Panichelli, and Virginia Shannon will lead the experienced Panthers. One of the captains’ first leadership opportunities will be on the squad’s second-annual mountain climbing trip in the Adirondacks.

2008-2009 Season Recap

SEASON RECORD: 19-8
FINAL RANKING: 13th
HOWE CUP RESULTS: 13th; 5th (consolation winner) in Kurtz Cup (B Division)

2009-2010 Season Preview

Returning Players from Team Championships: Virginia Shannon ’11 (2); Avery Tilney ’10 (3); Sarah DeCamp ’12 (5); Kathryn Bostwick ’12 (6); Liz McMorris ’10 (7); Jamie Burchfield ’12 (8); and Al Boillot ’12 (9)

Graduating Players from Team Championships: Sally Hatfield (1; first-team All-NESCAC); and Caroline Woodworth (4)

Additions for the 2009-2010 Roster: Molly Hubbard ’13 (Westover School) and Annie Ulrich ’13 (Westminster School)

Captains: Avery Tilney,  Ashley Panichelli,  and Virginia Shannon

Team Goals: To improve on their #13 ranking from last year

Key Matches: Bowdoin, Colby, Hamilton, Mount Holyoke, and Amherst

To read other team previews, please visit the 2009 – 2010 College Squash Preview Page.