Since students departed for spring break on March 22, the men’s lacrosse team has played six games, recording four wins and two losses. The Panthers’ record currently stands at 8-2 overall, with a 5-2 mark in NESCAC play.
Recently, the Panthers faced off on the road against Tufts and Amherst, recording a 10-8 win and a 14-13 loss on April 6 and 7, respectively.
Mike Ford ’15 commented on the team’s mentality before the games.
“The team was definitely feeling good going into the weekend, but we still knew that we hadn’t played our best lacrosse yet so we were excited to go out and compete against two great teams,” he said.
Over the break, the team earned wins over Wesleyan, Hamilton and New England College, while falling in a one-goal game to Bowdoin. Since then, the team played conference road games against Amherst and Tufts on Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7.
“We were looking to rebound from our first loss on the season, and in the NESCAC, against two great teams in Amherst and Tufts,” said tri-captain Billy Chapman ’13. “This was our biggest weekend of the season thus far and we were excited at the opportunity we had in front of us.”
Ford also spoke of the loss to the Polar Bears as a reality check for the squad.
“I think the loss to Bowdoin was a good thing for us as a team,” said Ford. “It showed us how competitive the NESCAC is and that any team can win on any given day. We all learned a lot from that game and it definitely made us better and will for sure help us down the road.”
On this past Saturday against Amherst, the squad scored three goals in 68 seconds as part of a 4-0 second-quarter run to take an 8-3 halftime lead. The run featured Jon Broome ’16, Christian Johansen ’16 and Joel Blockowicz ’15 all scoring in just over a minute to run the Panther lead to 8-3 at the half.
In the second half, the Lord Jeffs mounted a late comeback, but ultimately fell short, and Middlebury went on to win by a final tally of 10-8.
Broome tallied a game high three goals, while George Curtis ’14, Blockowicz, tri-captain Stew Kerr ’13, Mike Giordano ’13, Scott Redmond ’13, Spencer Macquarrie ’14 and Tim Giarrusso ’16 each added one to the winning effort.
The Panthers outshot the Jeffs 49-44 in the game, while Amherst held advantages in faceoffs and ground balls.
“It always feels good to win a NESCAC game, but the Amherst win felt especially good,” said Chapman.
The next day the Panthers traveled to Boston to challenge conference foe Tufts. The Jumbos took control for the majority of the game and came out with a one-point lead to end the game with a score of 14-13.
The Panthers started the game off with a 4-1 lead before Tufts turned the momentum to tie the score at the beginning of the second period. Early in the fourth period, the Jumbos took control of the game, running their lead to six at 14-8.
In the final nine minutes of the game, Redmond started a run of goals that led to four more Panther goals. Even with the final run, however, Middlebury fell just short and the final buzzer blew with Tufts holding a 14-13 lead.
Middlebury once again outshot their components, this time 47-41. The Jumbos held advantages in faceoffs and ground balls.
“Our plan for our last four games is to get better each game and play a complete game for all 60 minutes and our goal going into NESCACs is to be clicking on all cylinders and playing our best lacrosse,” said Chapman.
Middlebury returns to action when they play host to Trinity this Saturday, April 13. The Panthers then travel to Skidmore for a non-conference game against Skidmore on Tuesday, April 16.
“Coming off a disappointing season last year the mentality of the team this year was to play with a chip on our shoulder,” said Ford. “We had something to prove this year and that was to carry on the tradition of Middlebury lacrosse. The next four games are all equally important, as every team we play has a great program, and we need to come out and play our best to get some momentum heading into NESCACs.”
While the Panthers certainly have much left to prove, the team has already recorded twice as many wins as last year’s squad, which finished 4-9.
With just four contests remaining before the start of the NESCAC playoffs, the Panthers are inching towards a trip back to the conference tournament after not making the tournament last year.
They will face their next NESCAC opponent Saturday, April 13, at home against Trinity, and then will only face two more NESCAC opponents before playoffs begin.