Successful Start For Second Half Schedule For Men’s LAX

By IMRAN GANDA

For the first time this season, the men’s lacrosse team (5–5, 3–4) won back-to-back games with last week’s pair of road victories over Nescac cellar-dwellers Hamilton and Colby. Their 12–6 win over Hamilton in midweek action saw the Panthers play some of their best lacrosse of the season, and their 11–10 victory in Waterville last Saturday, April 7, demonstrated the team’s grit.

“It felt good to get momentum back on our side,” said Chase Goree ’20. “Our confidence was [shaken] during that three-game skid, and now we are starting to realize the type of swagger and competitiveness it takes to compete with teams in our conference.”

The pair of conference wins puts the Panthers in position to complete in postseason play. If the season ended today, Middlebury would be the seven seed in next month’s conference tournament — they hold the edge in the standings over Bates thanks to their head-to-head victory.

Last Wednesday’s game against Hamilton is worth special consideration because the Panthers were at their best.

“The offense moved the ball quickly and played together to generate some nice looks,” said Danny Jacobs ’20. Ball movement and team offense keyed the Panthers to their largest margin of victory of the season so far.

The Panthers saw their share of upstate New York and New England in the last week, too. After the midweek game in Clinton, New York, the Panthers headed east to Waterville, Maine, to take on the Colby Mules last Saturday.

After a tightly-contested first quarter, the Panthers trailed the Mules 4–3. Nonetheless, carrying their momentum from the Hamilton game into Waterville, the Middlebury defense managed to contain the Mules’ attack. Colby scored only a single goal in the second and third quarters.

The Panthers dominated on all fronts in the second quarter, outscoring the Mules 4–1.

When Henry Riehl ’18 found the back of the net midway through the second quarter, putting the Panthers up 6–4, he also extended his goal-scoring streak to 17 straight games in the process. Although an impressive feat, it almost went unnoticed by Riehl, who credits his teammates and his drive to inspire those around him as well.

“I actually had no idea I had that goal-scoring streak,” Riehl said. “It’s pretty exciting to hear that, and I think it’s a testament to the other guys out there every game. I’m fortunate enough to play with some great passers like A.J. Kucinski ’20 that make my life pretty easy. I try to lead by example, so I hope my tenacity on offense motivates my teammates to play with that same intensity.”

Though Colby managed to score three in the final quarter, the Panthers were able to slot home three goals of their own to leave the Pine Tree State victorious.

The offense has clicked for the Panthers recently, as they demonstrated in high-scoring quarters in their past two games. Not only has the defense done a better job of shutting down opportunities for opponents to reel themselves back into games, but the Panthers have stuck to their guns and philosophies to ensure offensive efficiency.

“We preach as an offensive group to not get ‘tunnel vision’ and to ‘hit singles.’ When all six offensive players are doing their best to maintain these two principles, we are hard to stop,” Goree mentioned.

In spite of their two-game win streak and reviving their playoff hopes, the Panthers are usually unconcerned with rankings. They believe they will be a playoff-bound team that is capable of defeating anyone.

“We take it one day at a time and look to be playing our best lacrosse in the month of May,” Riehl stated. “If we approach every day with this mindset, the rest should take care of itself.”

After last night’s midweek action at Springfield, the Panthers are now three games into a stretch of five straight that they have to play on the road. With a 2–0 start, the team is looking forward to gaining wins away from home and solidifying their presence in the conference in spite of the midweek travel challenges.
“Playing away from home is difficult in general but extremely difficult in the Nescac,” Goree said. “Every opponent is capable of beating anyone, so you really have to bring it every time you step on someone else’s turf.”

Surely the Panthers are more than ready and equipped to take down any Nescac opponent. They will be in action again this Saturday, April 14, in Hartford, Connecticut, for a conference bout with Trinity (4–6, 1–5).

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Successful Start For Second Half Schedule For Men’s LAX