This past Saturday, April 27, the Middlebury men’s lacrosse team played host to Amherst in a NESCAC quarterfinal matchup, securing a spot in the semifinal round with a 19-9 win. The Panthers edged Williams in their regular-season finale the previous Wednesday, April 24, by a final score of 15-14.
The Williams game was tight from the opening whistle, with the score at the end of the first half knotted at seven. The Panthers were able to open up a 12-8 third-quarter lead before withstanding a late run from the Ephs and holding on to win by one.
In beating Williams, Middlebury was able to lock down the number-one seed for the NESCAC tournament, and to secure some momentum heading into the quarterfinals against eighth-seeded Amherst.
In Saturday’s contest, Scott Redmond ’13 opened the scoring for the Panthers with a goal in the game’s eighth minute. First-year standout Jon Broome ’16 added his first goal before Redmond added another to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead. A pair of Amherst goals cut the Middlebury lead to two before Broome’s second gave the Panthers a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Panthers added to the lead in the second quarter, with Darric White ’14, Erich Pfeffer ’13 and Joel Blockowicz ’15 working goals around a single Lord Jeff tally to help Middlebury to a 7-3 halftime lead.
Coming out of the break, Middlebury exploded on the offensive end. Four different Panthers recorded goals in the quarter – including three from Broome – to stretch the Middlebury lead to 10 before a pair of Amherst goals trimmed the lead to eight. At the end of the third, the Panthers held a convincing 15-7 lead.
Broome took over the game in the fourth quarter, recording four goals to push his total to eight. Broome’s eighth and final goal – with 1:12 remaining in the game – would also be the last for the Panthers, who secured the win by a final score of 19-9.
“Scoring eight goals was definitely exciting, and I’m happy that I was able to finish when opportunities presented themselves,” said Broome. “I think setting the team scoring record for the tournament is even more impressive; it was one of those days when everybody stepped up and stuck shots.
Broome’s eight goals in the game are a new NESCAC tournament record, though he was quick to assign credit for the win to his teammates.
“Darric White had an absolute rip and Mike Giordano’s two goals and five assists should not get overlooked,” he said. “This win is a testament to the hard work we’ve put in this entire year, the senior leadership and our coaches.”
Middlebury held a 51-47 advantage in shots in the game, though the Lord Jeffs picked up five more ground balls and won three more faceoffs, holding edges of 39-34 and 17-14 in those two categories, respectively.
“The game against Amherst was exciting for a lot of reasons,” said Broome. “It was the first time we really put together a complete game in both the offense and defensive end. In a few other games, we’ve gotten out to a good lead and then let the other team back in it, but on Saturday, we kept the foot on the gas throughout the whole game.”
The Panthers are currently ranked sixth in the nation as they advance to the semifinals of the NESCAC tournament, where they will play Wesleyan at home this Saturday, May 4, with a spot in the conference title game on the line.
“If our team plays with that level of intensity, I think we have a good chance of winning the tournament,’ said Broome.
Despite winning the tournament seven times in the past 12 years, the Panthers have not won the NESCAC tournament since 2007. Last year also marked the first time that the Panthers failed to qualify for the tournament since its inception.
Middlebury defeated Saturday’s foe, Wesleyan, by a score of 7-6 on March 23 of this year. Broome recorded a hat trick in that contest, as the Panthers traded goals with the Cardinals until late in the fourth quarter when Sean Carroll ’16 sealed the game off an assist from Driscoll.
Wesleyan took down Bowdoin 8-7 in overtime in its quarterfinal tilt.