March 22, 2010

            The Middlebury College men's lacrosse team won two more games last week to improve to 3-0 on the season. The Panthers are ranked fifth in the latest national poll. The week opened as Middlebury earned a slim mid-week victory over Springfield 6-5.

            Springfield opened up the scoring as it netted the lone goal of the opening quarter of play. After a strong ride forced a failed Middlebury clear within its own defensive third, Kyle Louer picked up the ball on the restart and found the back of the cage at the 7:50 mark.

            However, the Middlebury offense hit its stride in the second quarter as it scored four unanswered goals to snag a 4-1 advantage. Junior Andrew Conner (Alexandria, Va.) netted the Panthers first goal of the game 50 seconds into the stanza as he bounced home a shot after fighting through a Springfield check. Neither team would score for over 10 minutes until sophomore Alex Englert (Wellesley, Mass.) converted on an unassisted strike after clearing the ball nearly 60 yards after a Panther save. 55 seconds later, senior Jeff Begin (Ipswich, Mass.) let loose a cannon and found the upper corner of the net to give the visitors a 3-1 lead. Conner found the back of the cage for his second goal of the quarter with 1:26 remaining as Middlebury opened up a three-goal cushion.

            The Pride's scoring drought was finally snapped with nine seconds left in the half as Shawn Runyon scooped up an errant pass in front of the net and blasted home Springfield's first goal in nearly 23 minutes.

            The Panthers were flagged for an illegal body check as time expired in the first half, allowing Springfield to start the second half on a man-up advantage. Austin Orsini found Joe Heney 23 seconds into the stanza for the Pride's third tally of the game.

            Orsini then recorded a goal of his own after Cory Schwarzkopf caused a turnover near midfield. The senior defender then lobbed a pass over the Panthers defense to a streaking Orsini, who slipped home the game-tying goal at the 11:57 mark.

            Middlebury responded with the game's next two goals to rebuild its lead to 6-4. Sophomore Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.) slotted home a goal as he tip-toed along the crease off a nice pass from senior Jack Masur (Bethesda, Md.) with 10:09 remaining and senior Pete Smith (Wilton, Conn.) found Englert trailing in transition with just over four minutes remaining for what would prove to be the the game-winning strike.

            The fourth quarter was marred by Springfield turnovers as SC committed five of its 23 errors in the frame. Joe Macchi tallied a sensational strike with 1:51 on the clock after a terrific individual effort from 10 yards out to make it a one-goal game.

            Mark Eaton won the ensuing face-off and head coach Keith Bugbee called a timeout to set up his offense. Out of the break, Macchi got his hands free and let a rocket fly towards the cage, only to clang off the crossbar with 36 seconds on the clock. After Orsini grabbed the loose ball, Macchi had another chance to score with 25 seconds left but his shot was broken up and Middlebury ran out the clock to hang on for the win.

            Marc Martinez had a very nice game between the pipes for Springfield, totaling 17 saves, including 11 in the first half. His counterpart, junior goalkeeper Ryan Deane (Grosse Pointe, Mich.), tallied 11 saves and four ground balls in the victory.

            Middlebury broke open a 3-3 game against NESCAC rival Wesleyan with nine straight goals en route to a 12-5 win at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium on Saturday. During the run, the fifth-ranked Panthers (3-0, 2-0) held the Cardinals (3-3, 0-2) scoreless for nearly 42 minutes of action.

            Middlebury jumped out to an early 2-0 lead before the Cardinals tied it at two with 7:13 left in the first quarter. Middlebury regained the lead on a man-up strike from sophomore Jack Balaban (Washington, D.C.) at 5:16 before Wesleyan notched the equalizer at 2:42, when Conor Malangone collected a behind the cage feed from John Froats. For the quarter, the Cardinals held a decisive 6-1 face-off advantage as the Panthers were playing without their top specialist Brian Foster.

            Over the next two quarters, Middlebury tallied eight of their nine straight goals, adding four in each stanza. Conner started the run, grabbing a cross-crease feed from senior Chris Teves (Wellesley, Mass.) for an 18 yard laser that got beneath Cardinal starting goalie Grant Covington. Three more goals followed, capped by a man-up turn-and-shoot score by Smith off a feed from Teves that chased Covington from the game at 6:46 in the second quarter. Wesleyan reserve Colin Campbell replaced Covington after the Smith goal and kept the Panthers at bay heading into the half trailing 7-3.

            The Panthers continued their sharp shooting in the third quarter, with junior David Hild's (W. Hartford, Conn.) score at 11:02. Englert and Smith followed up with tallies before Hild bookended the third quarter scoring on another man-up goal with 59 seconds remaining for an 11-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

            Teves capped the 9-0 run at 10:37 in the fourth for a 12-3 lead before Malangone ended the Cardinals scoring drought at 5:52. A late goal by Jon Killeen capped the scoring at 12-5 in favor of the Panthers.

            Smith paced Middlebury with two goals and three assists, while Hild added a hat trick and  Englert netted a pair of goals. Killeen and Malangone each chipped in a pair of goals for Wesleyan. Deane picked up the win in goal for Middlebury, allowing four goals over 58:28 while stopping 14 shots, as junior Charles Ward (Alexandria, Va.) played the final 1:32, allowing a goal with one save. Covington suffered the loss in net for the Cardinals, allowing seven goals over the first 23:14 of action, making one save. Campbell played the next 30:54, allowing five goals with seven saves, as Mark Simmons took the final 5:52, allowing no goals with one save.

• Men's lacrosse record: 3-0

• Up next: 3/23 vs. W&L @ Georgetown, 3/27 @ Conn. College