Men’s Lacrosse Suffers Third Consecutive NESCAC Defeat

By Courtney Mountifield

The Middlebury men’s lacrosse team lost to 10th-ranked Wesleyan by a score of 11-5 on Saturday, March 15. Middlebury has yet to reach double digit goals in any of its four games.

The Panthers got off to a quick start against the Cardinals. Only 2:31 into the game, Taylor Pirie ’15 found Mike Ford ’15 to get Middlebury on the scoreboard first; however, Wesleyan responded in a powerful way, scoring the next 10 goals to take a 10-1 lead with 11:38 left in the game. In the final 10:49, Jack Rautiola ’16 managed to score twice, Ford took his tally to two, and Jon Broome ’16 scored his lone goal for the game.

One player heavily influenced the Cardinals’ goal total. On the Wesleyan side, Matt Prezioso had an impressive showing on his home turf, scoring five of the 11 total goals.

There were some highlights from the loss for the Panthers though. Jack DeFrino ’17 won nine of 12 face offs, earning him game-high honors in ground balls alongside George Curtis ’14 and Broome. In addition, goalie Nate Gaudio ’14 finished the contest with a total of 19 saves.

Ford admitted that the team has a long way to go to get where it wants to be.

“Everyone played hard against Wesleyan,” Ford said, “but I think we all realized that we need to improve and work even harder. I don’t think we have played a complete game yet and that is something that we continue to strive for. As a team we learned that we need to elevate out level of playing from top to bottom and do everything better. After watching film and learning from our coaches, everyone knows they need to step up and contribute more going forward.”

Returning to the field on Tuesday, March 18, for a matchup against 20th-ranked St. Lawrence, the Panthers again were unable to stop their opponent on the defensive end and lost by a score of 14-7.

Middlebury was able to keep the score close early, tying the score at one with a goal from Jack Cleary ’16 three minutes in. A tally from Rautiola in the opening minutes of the second quarter brought the St. Lawrence lead back down to one at 4-3, but that was as close as the Panthers would get.

A string of four unanswered goals spanning the second and third quarters would be too much for Middlebury, who went on to lose its third straight game.
Middlebury was again outshot handily by their opponent. St. Lawrence racked up 45 shots over the course of the game to Middlebury’s 24. The Saints also dominated in the faceoff circle and in the ground-ball game, winning 17 of 23 faceoffs and picking up 13 more ground balls than the Panthers.

In the upcoming games, Ford that thinks their “main focus will be to come out with high intensity but also be composed. If everyone does what they need to do and our team plays at the level we know we are capable of playing, good things will happen.”

Sitting at 1-4 and 0-3 in conference play, Middlebury will have to work quickly to pull its game together if they are going to have a chance to resurrect their floundering season.

The Panthers will have a chance to do just that when they take on NESCAC foe Bowdoin on Saturday, March 22. Following that game, Middlebury will face a tough slate of competition over Spring Break, matching up with Endicott and Amherst over the course of the week.

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