Men’s Lacrosse Nearly Edges Top-Seeded Tufts
March 16, 2016
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As the sun shined bright and Main Street bustled with attendees of the 8th Annual Vermont Chili Festival, the seventh-ranked Middlebury men’s lacrosse team welcomed defending national champions and top-seeded Tufts to Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium on Saturday, March 12. After going down by three goals early in the game, the Panthers battled back to eventually tie their NESCAC rival in the fourth quarter before ultimately falling to the Jumbos by a score of 12-10.
The Jumbos got on the board quickly with a Jake Gillespie goal just 22 seconds into the contest, followed shortly by a nice finish from Tim Giarrusso ’16 to tie the game at one apiece. Gillespie, along with the rest of the Tufts offense, maintained momentum and powered the Jumbos to a 3-0 run with his Gillespie’s second of the day, in addition to tallies from Ben Andreycak and Austin Carbone over a span of just 1:50 in the first quarter. The Panthers stopped the bleeding with a rally from senior leadership as co-captain Jon Broome ’16 found midfielder Jack Cleary ’16 from behind the cage for a high shot to notch the score at 4-2 for the remainder of the first quarter.
The Panthers came out with a new level of intensity in the second quarter, peppering Tufts goaltender Alex Salazar with three shots in quick succession before Giarrusso found the net for his second goal of the day to bring the home team within one with 13:57 remaining. However, the Jumbos offense picked up right where it left off in the first quarter and responded by scoring four of the next five, including two bouncers from Cam Irwin and Kyle Howard-Johnson at 10:12 and 9:15, respectively. Again, a Panther senior stepped up to keep Middlebury in the game as Sean Carroll ’16 converted a Broome feed with 6:46 remaining. After a pair of Tufts goals only 31 seconds apart from John Uppgren and Andreycak, the Panthers put together a quality extended possession that ultimately culminated in a Henry Riehl ’18 goal and another Broome assist. Their efforts brought the score to 8-5 in favor of the Jumbos as the first half came to an end.
The game settled down in the second half as the Middlebury defense locked in and prevented the extended scoring streaks that had defined much of the first half. Instead, the Panthers put together a streak of their own with goals from Kyle Soroka ’16 and Jack Gould ’19 at 10:51 and 9:29. Tufts’ Connor Bilby responded to Middlebury’s best offensive run of the day with a piece of individual talent in a nice dodge and finished with just 3:02 remaining in the third quarter. Momentum swung back to the home side, however, when solid play on both sides of the ball resulted in a Middlebury goal. After causing a turnover in the final minute, Parker Lawlor ’18 scooped the ball before firing a goal with just eight seconds left to bring the Panthers within one heading into the final quarter.
Although Andreycak’s third tally with 12:13 remaining gave the visitors the 10-8 advantage, Middlebury continued to demonstrate their defining grit and resolve throughout the final quarter. John Jackson ’18 was a force from the faceoff, affording the Panthers valuable possession opportunities by going 15-25 in addition to scooping six ground balls. Gould got the offense rolling in the fourth, converting on a man-up opportunity just a minute before Lawlor scored his second unassisted goal of the day to level the score at 10-10 with 9:05 remaining. Only 20 seconds later, Gillespie dodged from the right side and found the back of the net for the eventual game-winning goal, while Andreycak added another at 7:38 to round-out Tufts’ offensive effort. The Panthers fired four shots in the remaining minutes but could not pull any closer as Tufts took possession in the final minute and ran out the clock.
While ultimately unable to gain the advantage in scoring, the Panthers outplayed Tufts in many categories throughout the contest. Notably, Middlebury nearly doubled their opponent in shots, posting a 59-30 advantage as well as a 32-27 edge in ground balls. The Jumbos relied on consistent goaltending in the win, with Salazar recording 18 saves on the day while Will Ernst ’17 made nine stops for the Panthers.
Clearing was a strength for both teams, with the Panthers finding success on 13 of their 15 opportunities, while the Jumbos went 18-22. Middlebury was 2-3 while playing with an extra man, while Tufts posted a goal in four tries.
“We just need to keep improving on a daily basis,” said Broome, one of Middlebury’s captains. “The game against Tufts showed that we can play with any team in the country, but it was also clear that we still have a lot of work on. Specifically, we need to be better in unsettled situations on both ends of the field.”
The Middlebury men’s lacrosse team dropped their second straight game on Tuesday, March 15 when St. Lawrence came to Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. In nail-biting double overtime fashion the Saints took a 14-13 victory from the Panthers at home, a place where victories traditionally do not come easily to opponents. As a result, Middlebury’s record drops to 2-2; a line they will look to improve this Saturday when they travel to Wesleyan to play an ever-important NESCAC matchup. St. Lawrence returns to action on Saturday as well when they travel to Davenport, Fla. to take on Western New England University.
Both sides came out of the gate hot as the Saints’ Conor Healy opened the game only 1:10 into the contest a little more than a minute before Cedric Rhodes ’17 responded with an underhand strike from 10 yards away. The trend continued as Jordan Dow ’18 put the guests back in front at 9:36, only to bring on another Middlebury response as Michael McCormack ’19 ripped his first career goal with 9:12 remaining. St. Lawrence began to take the game over, however, as Healey and Dow led the Saints on a four goal run to put the visiting side up 6-2. After Jon Broome ’16 finished a Jack Cleary ’16 feed with only half a second left in the first quarter, Middlebury started the second quarter with a Rhodes man-up goal to make it a 6-4 contest with 13:49 left. Again, the Saints responded with a multiple goal run to give the visitors the 8-4 advantage. To counter, Middlebury looked to its senior leadership and found some in the form of two straight goals from Broome, on scoop and dish assists from Kyle Soroka ’16 and Harrison Goodkind ’16, respectively. Andrew Jarret ’17 gave St. Lawrence the 9-6 advantage heading into the half when he scored with only 24 seconds remaining.
After an offensively dominated first half which saw 15 goals, the third quarter had just three. Middlebury opened the final quarter by going on a four goal run of their own including the final two from a Jack Gould ’19 goaland the same connection culminating in a Soroka goal to give the Panthers a 12-10 advantage with 10:47 left. After a two goal counter by the Saints and Gould’s third of the day, an unassisted rip with only 2:11 left on the clock, Dow scored his fourth to equalize the contest at 13-13 and force overtime with just six seconds left. Sean Carroll ’16 had the best look in the first four-minute overtime period when he found space 10 yards out but ripped it just high. St. Lawrence’s Vautor then found space with just over a minute left in the second period, only to be denied by goalie Will Ernst ’17, who had 10 saves on the day. After a Middlebury possession that yielded a pair of shots with a man-up chance, Dow ended the game in the closing seconds redirecting a pin-point pass by Alec Dietsch ’17 from the right side for the Saint victory.