May 18, 2009

The Panther men's lacrosse team saw its season come to an end with a 16-8 loss at Cortland State in an NCAA Semifinal game. The fourth-ranked Red Dragons closed the game with a 9-2 second-half run to defeat seventh-ranked Middlebury. Cortland advances to next Sunday's title game against Gettysburg, while the Panthers end their season with an impressive 15-3 mark.

Brian Krol led Cortland with three goals and an assist, while Joey Morgan and Mike Tota each found the back of the net three times. Chris DeLuca had two goals and two assists, Brandon Misiaszek recorded two goals and an assist and Jay DiStefano contributed a goal and two assists. Matt Hipenbecker made eight saves in 52 minutes, 26 seconds before giving way to Mike Robinson, who stopped one shot over the final 7:34.

Senior Skyler Hopkins (Easton, Md.) scored three times to pace the Panther offense. Seniors Matt Ferrer (Darien, Conn.) and Tom Petty (Newburyport, Mass.) each notched a pair of goals. Senior Mike Stone (Boston, Mass.) scored once to end his career with 124 tallies, while junior Pete Smith (Wilton, Conn.) contributed a game-high four assists. Senior goalie Peter Britt (Summit, N.J.) made 10 saves in the game.

Cortland grabbed a 5-2 lead after 15 minutes of play. Misiaszek gave the Red Dragons a 1-0 lead at 12:49, followed by Deluca's unassisted goal at 10:46. Hopkins cut the lead in half 42 seconds later with an unassisted goal. Krol netted a man-up goal but Petty pulled the Panthers to within 3-2 off Smith's first assist of the game at 3:25. DeLuca answered with his second of the quarter at 2:22 and Tota ripped a shot into the upper corner with just two seconds left in the first.

Morgan and DiStefano pushed the Red Dragons' lead to 7-2 with goals at 7:06 and 1:14, respectively, in the second quarter, but Brown scored an important goal for Middlebury (15-3) 20 seconds before the half to make it a 7-3 game.

The Panthers made a run at Cortland, notching the first three goals of the third quarter, two from Hopkins and one from Ferrer, to get to within 7-6 at the midway point. The Panthers were in position to tie the game after a one-minute cross-checking penalty on Cortland at 7:28. The Red Dragons, however, successfully killed off the man-up chance. The possession then led to a break for Cortland and a goal by Tota, which started the 9-2 run that put the game out of reach.

Krol and Tota scored 77 seconds apart and Cortland led 10-6 before Petty cut the lead to three with his second of the game at 48 seconds. Morgan gave the momentum right back to the Red Dragons when he scored off a pass from DeLuca three seconds before the end of the quarter and Cortland led 11-7.

Morgan, Misiaszek and Krol pumped in goals less than five minutes into the fourth quarter and Cortland's lead had ballooned to 14-7. At 8:12, Wright tallied a man-up goal, and Mulvaney upped the advantage to 16-7 just 31 seconds later off a DeLuca feed. Ferrer finished the scoring with his second of the game on Smith's fourth assist at 5:49. Cortland played ball control in the closing minutes to seal the 16-8 win.

Earlier in the week, the Panthers earned a convincing 13-5 win at Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. The win over Wesleyan avenged both of Middlebury's losses this season at the hands of the Cardinals, who end their season at 15-4.

Middlebury took a little while to get started in its third meeting with Wesleyan but left no trace of its 3-0 deficit after 7:28 of the first quarter. The Panthers rattled off six unanswered goals from 7:03 of the first period when senior Matt Ferrer got things started off a pass from sophomore David Hild (W. Hartford, Conn.) to 3:37 of the second stanza when Hopkins netted an unassisted tally from the outside. The six goals came from six different players but Hopkins had two assists on the other five goals to trigger the assault.

At the other end, Middlebury's defense stymied the Cardinal offense, holding Wesleyan to just one shot over the nearly 20-minute span. Also helping support the Middlebury effort was senior face-off man Dave Campbell (Boise, Idaho). After he lost five of six face-offs during the opening quarter, he settled in to win 11 of the final 16.

Though Wesleyan ended the first half on a goal by John Froats to make it a 6-4 margin at intermission, that was as close as the Cardinals would get. Middlebury had the only two goals of the third period, coming from Stone on a low shot from the outside and Hild on an inside feed from Smith. Stone, named NESCAC Player of the Year for the second straight season, took over the game in the fourth quarter as Middlebury pushed the four-goal difference to the final margin of eight. Stone was involved in four of the Panthers final five goals with two goals and two assists, bringing his seasonal total to 73 on 56 goals and 17 helpers.

Smith, with a goal and three assists, upped his seasonal output to 57 points (15-42-57) while Hopkins cracked the 50-point plateau at 31-21-52 with his goal and two assists.

Britt, who has played all but five minutes in goal for the Panthers this season, made 15 saves for a .750 percentage in the contest. His counterpart, senior Mike Borrero of Wesleyan, had 13 stops.

Wesleyan senior Russ Follansbee paced the Cardinals with two goals, including the final score at 9:51 of the fourth quarter which cut the differential to five at 10-5.
. Men's lacrosse final record: 15-3