After a tough stretch a few weeks ago and some encouraging steps towards success two weekends ago, the Middlebury Men’s lacrosse team finally put it all together this past week. Last week featured two marquee matchups for the team as they took on an athletic Springfield team at home to kick off a three-game homestand.
Springfield was 6-2 entering the game, receiving votes in the NCAA D3 top-25 poll similar to Middlebury, and posed a great matchup and test before a crucial conference game against Trinity on Saturday. The Panthers met and triumphed in both contests, winning 13-12 over Springfield and 11-7 over Trinity.
In the Springfield game, sophomore Chase Midgley ’19 started and played all 60 minutes in goal, making 11 saves on 23 shots. Jake Madnick ’20 and John Jackson ’18 completed a great duo in face offs as Madnick won 13/17 and Jackson won 8/12. On offense, Luke Peterson ’19 and Henry Riehl ’18 led the way with three goals each, followed closely by A.J. Kucinski ’20 who added two shots to the back of the net and two assists. Madnick and Jake DeFrino ’17 tied in picking up a team high eight ground balls, four more than the next best result for either team.
After a close loss against Bates the preceding Saturday, this was a great game to win for the Panthers, showing that they could still compete at an elite level even without several key starters who are lost to the year because of injury, including Clay Hunt ’19, Jack Gould ’19, and Michael McCormick ’19.
“Even though we have had injuries other players are stepping up to fill their roles,” said Chris Bradbury ’19. “Having a win going into a Saturday game is always a big confidence boost which helped us to a win.”
Saturday’s game featured a matchup between two teams vying to make the NESCAC playoffs as Trinity entered 0-7 in conference games while Middlebury was 2-5 and currently occupies the eighth and last playoff spot. Middlebury started off strongly on Saturday, taking a quick 4-2 lead on goals from Chase Goree ’20, Jackson, Peterson and Riehl, but let their lead slip in the second quarter, falling behind 6-5 at the half. The second half was all Panthers though as they were surely inspired by the warm weather and big crowd who came out to Alumni Stadium to support them. The Panthers went on a 6-2 scoring run to close out the game, with goals from Kucinski (2), Danny Jacobs ’20, and Riehl (3). Kucinski added four assists to lead Middlebury who earned their third NESCAC victory, putting them in a good position heading into next Saturday’s game against Colby College. Midgley had a breakout game in the net too, saving 16/23 shots, cementing himself as a key piece to the Middlebury lineup.
With just two regular season games left, Midd needs to win at least one of more game to clinch a playoff berth. Riehl is having an outstanding season for the Panthers and is just three goals off of the league leading number of 42, and eight off of the league leading assists mark of 36, looking to find himself on an All-NESCAC team at the end of the season.