April 9, 2012

Trailing 8-3 to Tufts late in the third quarter, Middlebury used a 5-1 run, closing the gap to 9-8 in the fourth. The Panthers could not net the equalizer in the final minutes, dropping a 10-9 decision to the Jumbos at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. The 12th ranked Tufts squad improved to 7-2 overall and are 4-1 in NESCAC action, while Middlebury dropped to 2-4 in conference play and stands at 2-6 on the season.

The Jumbos took an early 3-1 lead after one quarter as Beau Wood notched a pair including a man-up goal to close the first stanza. Middlebury answered in the second quarter when rookie Joel Blockowicz (Potomac, Md.) put a bounce shot on goal that appeared to ricochet off Tufts’ goalie Patton Watkins stick and into the back of the net at 12:59. Leading 3-2, the Jumbos closed out the half scoring two more goals including one off a nice feed by Cole Bailey to Geordie Schafer with 58 seconds left for a 5-2 lead at intermission.

Bailey set up Wood to open the third on a cross-crease laser helper at 14:03, as Schafer notched another at 10:09 for a 7-2 Jumbo advantage. Both teams exchanged scores before Middlebury strung three in a row in the final minutes of the third quarter. Junior Stew Kerr (Lake Forest, Ill.) scored a pair during the burst, including his third of the game at 1:40, cutting the deficit to 8-6. Wood and Schafer connected with 11 seconds left in the third as Wood scored his fourth off a Schafer feed for a 9-6 lead after three quarters.

In the fourth, Middlebury sophomore Bucky Pierce (Wilmington, Del.) scored a man-up goal at 10:34, before senior Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.) cut it to 9-8 after collecting a cross bar missed shot groundball in front of the crease at 7:04. Bailey set up teammate Chris Schoenhut at 5:56, giving the Jumbos a 10-8 advantage before junior Andrew Metros (Kings Point, N.Y.) struck for the Panthers 31 seconds later.

Trailing 10-9 with less than two minutes to play, Middlebury had a pair of possessions down the stretch, but did not get a shot on goal to tie the game.

For the game, the Panthers held a decisive 15-7 face-off lead, a 40-25 groundball advantage, outshot the Jumbos 34-29, and were 3-5 on extra-man opportunities.

Middlebury was paced by senior Jack Balaban’s (Washington, D.C.) two goals and two assists, as Kerr collected a hat trick and junior Brian Foster (Medfield, Mass.) won 15/22 face-offs. Sophomore Nate Gaudio (Cheshire, Conn.) allowed 10 goals in net for the Panthers, stopping nine shots.

Amherst held off a late charge by Middlebury (2-7, 2-5) as the 14th-ranked Jeffs (8-2, 4-2) earned a 12-11 road win on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. Amherst snaps a two-game losing streak after seven wins to start the season, while the Panthers drop their sixth straight contest. Jeffs’ goalkeeper Sam Jakimo came up big, making 22 saves on the afternoon as his team was outshot 51-33.

An active first quarter saw the first 15 minutes end in a 4-4 tie. Trailing 3-2, Middlebury’s Kerr scored two straight goals to give his team a 4-3 advantage. A late goal from Amherst’s Evan Redwood tied the game with just two seconds remaining in the quarter.

Amherst held a 3-1 advantage in the second quarter, taking a 7-5 lead into the halftime break. Aaron Mathias opened the quarter with a rocket from the right side, followed by a goal from Cole Cherney. Sophomore Bryan Ayers (Southborough, Mass.) answered for the Panthers before Dan Routh closed the first half in transition with 5:13 remaining.

Cahill opened the third quarter with a quick-stick goal from Metros, cutting the Amherst lead to 7-6 at the 13:10 mark. The Jeffs followed with a 4-0 run to take an 11-6 advantage at the 4:52 mark of the third. Four different players scored during the run, with Evan Redwood earning assists on three of the four markers.

A pair of goals 19 seconds apart by Middlebury junior Erich Pfeffer (Glastonbury, Conn.), including a man-up tally at the 2:45 mark, made it an 11-8 game after three quarters.

Cherney scored his third of the game for Amherst in transition with a quick spin and shoot move, giving his team a 12-8 lead with 10:17 left to play. That would be the Jeffs final goal of the game as the Panthers made their run.

Kerr scored with a nice dodge move from behind the goal, before senior Alex Englert (Wellesley, Mass.) raced down the field and scored to bring the Panthers within two at 12-10 with 6:23 remaining. Kerr scored again with 2:14 left after unsettled play to make it a one goal game. The Panthers had a great chance to tie the game in the final minute with a man-advantage, but Cahill’s rocket from 10 yards out was denied by Jakimo.

Kerr, who now owns seven goals in his last two games, paced the Panthers with four, while Pfeffer added a pair. Junior Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.) finished with a goal and an assist, while Metros dished out two helpers. Sophomore Darric White (Fairfield, Conn.) earned a game-high seven ground balls, while junior Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.) had six. Gaudio made nine saves in goal for Middlebury.
• Men’s lacrosse record: 2-7
• Up next: 4/14 @ Trinity