Men’s Lacrosse Showing They Are For Real

By IMRAN GANDA

The men’s lacrosse team showed that they have depth and are capable of competing with the nation’s best last Saturday, March 10, and Monday, March 12. At the same time, there is plenty of room for growth in a season that is still young.

Although they split their two games, they played No. 20 Connecticut College closely last Saturday, ultimately falling to the Camels by a score of 8–6 on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium but held 4–2 and 6–5 leads earlier in the game. Then, in their game on Monday, the Panthers laid it on St. Lawrence for a better part of three-quarters of an hour, leading 12–3 at the end of the third quarter, before having to hold on to barely beat the Saints 12–11.

In Saturday’s game against Conn. College, the Camels put Middlebury on its heels immediately by gaining the upper hand just 48 seconds into the first quarter. At the 9:57 mark, the hosts found an equalizer at the hands of Henry Riehl ’18. Midfielder Parker Lawlor ’18 found the back of the net with two minutes remaining in the first to give the Panthers a 2–1 advantage.

The Panthers continued to press until the very end of the quarter, scoring once more with 3.7 seconds left on the clock after the Camels committed a turnover. Michael McCormack ’19 burst into the crease and slotted the ball into the back of the net to put Middlebury ahead 3–1 at the end of the first quarter.

The visitors cut the deficit to one goal halfway into the second quarter. Then Frank Cosolito ’20 assisted a Riehl goal at the top of the crease to restore the two-goal advantage. But over the final four minutes of the first half, the Camels responded with two goals to knot the game at four going into the halfway point.

In the third quarter, Middlebury and Conn. College traded goals, before the Camels scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal with 2:20 left in the quarter. The visitors took its first lead 25 seconds into the quarter, but Alderik van der Heyde ’21 answered with his first career goal to tie the game at five. The Panthers regained the lead when A.J. Kucinski ’20 scored from the top of the crease. Kucinski’s goal was Middlebury’s last, as the Camels scored the last two goals of the quarter to take a 7–6 lead.

Conn. College scored an insurance goal with 10:34 left in the game. The Panthers had a few chances to score, ripping four shots at the end of regulation but could not find the back of the net. And Nescac foe Conn. College handed Middlebury its first loss of the young season, avenging its 8–6 loss to the Panthers last season.

Conn. College’s style and tactics proved a difficult code to crack for the Panthers of play proved. Defender Keaton Yates ’18 chimed in on the challenge the Camels posed for the Panthers.

“Their zone defense is a different look than we are used to going against,” said Yates. “It slows the game down and makes you move the ball patiently to get the looks that you want. Conn. College a is very disciplined team and works well within their system.”

After the tough loss at home, the Panthers had a one day turnaround to prep for the St. Lawrence Saints, in a game that was moved up from Tuesday, March 13, to Monday, March 12, due to the weather forecast.

Middlebury got off to a fast start against St. Lawrence — the Panthers scored six goals in the first 12 minutes, all by different players. Those who got in on the action were Lawlor, Cosolito, John Jackson ’18, Riehl, Danny Jacobs ’20 and van der Heyde. It was the first goal of the season for Jacobs, who scored 19 last year for the Panthers.

The Panthers went on to end the first half with a 7–1 advantage after Kucinski scored a goal assisted by Jacobs.

The fact that the Panthers have spread the goal-scoring around will prove to be a plus for the team going forward.

“On Monday, we had 10 different goal scorers, which is a testament to our depth and ability on the offensive end,” said Riehl, who led the team in scoring last season with 53 goals. “Each day in practice, we are becoming more comfortable as a unit and mastering our scheme a little bit better.”

A little over two minutes into the third, the Panthers held an eight-point lead following goals from Will Brossman ’21 and McCormack. The Saints responded with two rapid goals of their own, to which McCormack decided to score two additional goals to complete a hattrick for the game. Soon after McCormack’s double, Laurence Jackson ’21 was able to force a turnover and provide a goal for defender Eric Rogers ’18 with 4:53 left in the game.

The Saints answered back with a man-up goal and would hold the Panthers goalless in the fourth quarter. They were able to score seven goals in the final quarter but were unable to cap off their almost miraculous comeback.

Lapses on the defensive end and St. Lawrence’s sudden revival in the fourth put the Panthers into a corner during the final quarter.

“During that quarter there was a collective lapse in communication and some sloppy play on our defensive end,” said Yates. “We started to turn the ball over in the clear and allowed them to convert on possessions they had after those turnovers, which let them gain some momentum.”

Fortunately, the Panthers were able to salvage a win and will now prep for their first away game of the season for a Nescac bout against No. 9 Wesleyan.

“Wesleyan is a very good team and a challenging competitor every year,” Yates said, “but we are going to prepare for them like we would for any other Nescac game by making sure we are working hard and taking steps forward everyday in practice. It’s going to be important that on Saturday we win the ground ball battle and limit the time spent in the penalty box.”

The Panthers will head to Middletown, Connecticut, on Saturday, March 17, where the action against the Cardinals is set to start at 2 p.m.

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Men’s Lacrosse Showing They Are For Real