March 10, 2011
Filed under Sports
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The Middlebury men’s lacrosse team comes into the 2011 season primed for success, but also with a bit of a chip on its shoulder. The team finished the 2010 season with a record of 13-6, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament only to be defeated for a third time by conference rival Tufts, who would later go on to be national champions. Midfielder Nick Stevens ’11 thinks that this gives the team extra motivation to repay the favor.
“It was definitely tough to watch Tufts hoist the National Championship trophy after playing them so close in both the NESCAC championship game and the NCAA quarterfinals,” said Stevens.
“For the first time in a while, Tufts is the favorite going into NESCAC play,” goalkeeper Charles Ward ’11 added. “That being said, those three losses to a team we know we can play with left a sour taste in our mouth, and we don’t want that to happen again.”
In order to regain conference supremacy, the Panthers will rely on an offensive attack largely the same from last year’s line-up. The team returns four of its top six scorers in David Hild ’11, Andrew Conner ’11, Erich Pfeffer ‘13 and Tim Cahill ’12. Of the other scorers last season with 10 points or more, Jack Balaban ’12 and Alex Englert ’12 also return and are expected to contribute as scoring threats. However, this year’s team will also rely on its depth.
“This team is going to be successful because of its depth and balance. There are quality players at every position, and quality players backing them up,” said Ward. Included in this depth is the emergence of some standout first-years in Griff McGoldrick ’14 and Quinn Cronan ’14, who Ward said “have been looking good in the early going and could add some important scoring to the midfield.”
The Panthers are also excited to be fielding a defensive core largely the same from 2010. Matt Rayner ’12 and Henry Clark ’12 will be the foundation of the close defense, while Ryan Deane ’11 will get the majority of the starts between the pipes.
The team opens up its regular season with a 1 p.m. matchup against NESCAC foe Bates this Saturday at home. According to Stevens, the team is ready to take the field.
“Our team has been working extremely hard all fall and winter and I think that everyone is chomping at the bit to put on the Middlebury uniform on Saturday.” Stevens added, “I think that this first game will be a good indicator of where our team is. I have been impressed with the team’s performance in both of our scrimmages, and I have high expectations for Saturday.”