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Men’s Lacrosse Back to Winning Ways Against Wesleyan

By Trevor Schmitt

The seventh-ranked Middlebury men’s lacrosse team returned to their winning ways last Saturday, March 19 when they traveled to take on the Wesleyan Cardinals. In their second overtime contest in as many games the Panthers emerged on top, scoring just 50 seconds into overtime to earn a big 9-8 NESCAC win. Middlebury looks to start another winning streak on Tuesday when they head to Plattsburgh  State for an out-of-conference matchup.

The Panthers came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as they scored all three goals in the first quarter. The first, a Cedric Rhodes ’17 finish from a Jon Broome ’16 assist, came just 2:36 into the game. Broome continued to facilitate and dished another opening quarter assist with 5:28 remaining, this time setting up a Sean Carroll ’16 tally. Jack Gould ’19 finished the Panthers’ explosive first quarter with an unassisted goal with less than two minutes on the clock to give the squad the 3-0 lead.

Wesleyan finally found a way to get themselves on the scoreboard at the 2:12 mark in the second quarter when Niall Devaney found the back of the net. As the hosts started to tighten up defensively and prevent the Middlebury fireworks that marked the opening quarter, their offense continued to attack as just 1:30 later Taylor Ghesquiere cut the Panther lead to one.

That tight defense would not last long, however, as the electric Middlebury offense started to find its rhythm again, this time in the form of back-to-back goals in a run spanning just over a minute. Yet another Broome assist, the most consistent form of offense Middlebury has seen all year, led to a Joey Zelkowitz ’17 goal before a Jack Cleary ’16 strike re-extended the Middlebury lead to three with 3:09 remaining. The half ultimately ended 6-3 in favor of the Panthers after the two sides traded goals to finish the quarter.

The third quarter was marked by further battling from both sides as Middlebury again responded to an early Cardinal charge. After the home team scored the first two to again cut the lead to one, the Panthers responded with two late goals from Henry Riehl ’18 and Gould with 3:03 and 20 seconds remaining, respectively. In typical NESCAC fashion, however, Wesleyan battled their way back into the contest, erasing the 8-5 deficit by scoring all three goals in the fourth quarter. Harry Stanton led the Cardinal resurgence with an unprecedented single quarter hat trick.

It was the Panther defense, however, that prevailed when a Jack Defrino ’17 caused turnover led to a Dylan Fowler ’16 ground ball. On the ensuing Panther clear, Wesleyan was flagged for a penalty and gave the Panthers a man-up opportunity with five seconds left in regulation. As a result, Middlebury entered overtime with a man-up possession and a clear offensive game plan. After patiently working the ball around the perimeter, Gould ripped the game winner and his third tally of the day from 20 yards within 50 seconds of the start of the four-minute overtime period.

Goalie Will Ernst ’17 had eight saves to earn the win as Middlebury held a 39-28 advantage in shots. The Panthers went 1-2 in man-up situations and Wesleyan was unsuccessful in its lone opportunity.

The team earned their second straight victory in a 10-8 road win at Plattsburgh St. on Tuesday afternoon. Led by first-year Gould’s second hat-trick in as many games, the Panthers won yet another game decided by two or fewer goals, the fourth such contest of the season. After Plattsburgh found the back of the net less than five minutes into the first quarter to get out to an early lead, Middlebury came roaring back with a four goal streak to end the opening quarter. All three of Gould’s goals came during the streak, which culminated in a 4-1 Panther lead heading into the second quarter.

The two sides traded goals in the second quarter to end the first half with a score of 6-3 in favor of the visiting Panthers.

The Cardinals refused to go down easily, however, and came out in the third quarter with a three-goal streak of their own to tie the contest. Again the two teams traded two goal runs as the fourth quarter continued. Middlebury tallied goals from Tim Giarrusso ’16 and Kyle Soroka ’16, the latter on a man-up opportunity, Plattsburgh responded again to notch the game at 8-8 with 7:15 left to play. As has been the case for much of the year, a couple of Panther seniors stepped up when the team needed them most. Giarrusso scored his second to break the tie at 5:36 before Broome scored what would be the last goal of the game to make it 10-8 and effectively ice the Middlebury win with 3:17 left.

Broome capped the scoring with 3:17 left and made it a 10-8 final. The Cardinals owned a slight shot advantage (35-30), while the Panthers owned a 38-23 edge in ground balls.

Middlebury returns to action Saturday when the squad heads to Bowdoin for a  huge NESCAC matchup on the road.

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