April 16, 2012

Trinity scored all three goals of the fourth quarter, including the game-winner by Steve Manning with 1:59 left in the game, to turn an 8-6 deficit into a 9-8 victory over visiting Middlebury on Jessee/Miller Field. Trinity, ranked No. 16 in the nation, improves to 8-3, while the Panthers drop to 2-8 overall and 2-6 in the league with their seventh consecutive defeat and their third in a row by a single goal. Trinity snaps a four-game losing streak against the Panthers and avenges an 11-10 loss in last year’s NESCAC Semifinals.

Trailing, 8-6, after three quarters, Trinity’s Rob Nogueras and Jeff Hebert scored twice in the fourth quarter to knot the score at 8-8 with four minutes left on the clock. Middlebury had possession of the ball with under three minutes left, when Trinity’s Chris Novick hustled down an errant Middlebury pass. The Bantams pushed the ball up the field, and Manning took the ball from the right wing across the front of the net and shot from the left past Middlebury keeper Nate Gaudio (Cheshire, Conn.) for the clincher. The Panthers won the ensuing face-off, but another bad pass resulted in a scramble for the ball on the left side of the field behind the net. Trinity goalkeeper Peter Johnson emerged with the ball, but was pressured by the Panther defense, and a clever play at his own end line by Drew Grombala allowed Trinity to clear the ball and keep possession until the final horn.

            Hebert had opened the game’s scoring with a goal from Matt Hauck 1:55 into the contest, but the Panthers scored four of the next six goals including a pair by junior Stew Kerr (Lake Forest, Ill.) to give the visitors a 4-3 lead after one quarter.  In the second quarter, Kerr scored again and Panther senior Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.) scored once and fed Kerr on his goal to help Middlebury to a 7-5 lead at the break. Hebert and Nogueras paced the Trinity offense in the first half with two goals apiece. Hebert and Middlebury rookie Joel Blockowicz (Potomac, Md.) scored the only goals of the third quarter.

Hebert and Nogueras each finished with four goals, while Hauck had two assists including his second on the game-tying tally by Hebert.  Johnson stopped 22 shots and scooped a pair of ground balls for the Bantams, while Charles Finnegan totaled three ground balls and three caused turnovers, and Will Naughton added a team-high four ground balls.

Kerr had a hat-trick and now has 10 goals in his last three games. Cahill notched two goals and one assist to go with four ground balls, while junior Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.) scored twice for Middlebury. Gaudio made 12 saves, while junior Brian Foster (Medfield, Mass.) won 17-19 face-off opportunities and tied classmate Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.) with eight ground balls each.  Middlebury outshot Trinity, 52-42, and held a 41-30 edge on ground balls. Trinity held the Panthers scoreless on six extra-man opportunities.

• Men’s lacrosse record: 2-8

• Up next: 4/17 vs. Skidmore – 4:30, 4/21 @ Colby – 1:00