March 19, 2012

            Trailing 5-2 in the third quarter, the Middlebury College men’s lacrosse team went on a 10-1 run, scoring the final eight goals of the game for a remarkable 12-6 victory over Connecticut College at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. For the game, Middlebury out-shot the Camels 50-21 and 17-3 in the fourth quarter. The eighth-ranked Panthers improve to 2-0 in NESCAC play, 2-1 overall, while the Camels remain winless on the young season at 0-3, with all three losses coming from conference foes.

            The fast-paced second half scoring barrage contrasted a slow start to the game as each team mustered a man-up goal in the first quarter. The scoring picked up in the second stanza as Conn. College took a 3-1 lead on unassisted tallies by Andrew Freedman and Stephen Eicher. Middlebury sliced the lead to 3-2 before the half when sophomore Quinn Cronan (Winchester, Mass.) spun in for his only goal of the game.

            The Camels opened up their 5-2 lead early in the third period when Briggs Barton used a lefty move from 13 yards out with 14:07 left. Freedman followed 28 seconds later collecting a great cross-crease feed from J.R. Hartgers.

            With less than ten minutes to play in the third quarter, the Panthers began their assault when senior Alex Englert (Wellesley, Mass.) put a wind-up shot past Camel goalie Rob Moccia. Ten seconds later after the Panthers won the ensuing face-off, junior Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.) scored from in close, setting the score 5-4 in favor of the visitors with 9:13 left in the third. The Camels answered four minutes later on a goal by Chad Sawyer, giving Conn. College a 6-4 lead.

            That would be the final tally for the Camels as Middlebury started their eight-goal onslaught less than a minute later on a goal from junior John Duvnjak (Manhasset, N.Y.), as the long-stick defender scored off a turnover. Junior Erich Pfeffer (Glastonbury, Conn.) closed out the third, muscling in from the right side, tying the game at six apiece.

            It took 8:49 for Middlebury junior Stew Kerr (Lake Forest, Ill.) to break the 6-6 deadlock. Kerr grabbed his own off-the-post rebound and sliced a lefty bouncer past Moccia with 6:11 left to play. Leading 7-6, the Panther junior Andrew Metros (Kings Point, N.Y.) scored 22 seconds later for an 8-6 lead. Giordano assisted on Middlebury’s next goal at 4:09 before scoring his second of the game at 3:49. Sophomore Darric White (Fairfield, Conn.) gave Middlebury an 11-6 lead as the defenseman collected a quick-stick feed from junior Scott Redmond (Essex Fells, N.J.) in transition just 19 seconds later. Giordano fed another long-pole a minute later as rookie Cal Williams (Wayland, Mass.) capped the scoring with another transition goal.

             Giordano paced Middlebury with two goals and two assists, while Kerr netted a pair and Redmond added two helpers. White added a goal and one assist, as junior Brian Foster (Medfield, Mass.) won 8-15 face-offs, and rookie Nate Guadio (Cheshire, Conn.) made seven saves in net for the win.

            Moccia was busy in goal for the Camels, seeing 50 shots during the game, stopping 17 of them while allowing 12 goals. Freedman’s two goals and Hartgers’ goal and assist led Conn. College scoring. Chuck Czerkawski grabbed a game-best 10 groundballs, most off face-off wins as the midfielder won 13-22 attempts.

            Earlier in the week, Middlebury suffered its first loss of the season as the eighth-ranked Panthers fell 14-5 at #19 Springfield. Pride sophomore goalkeeper Robert Maher registered a career-best 17 saves to lead his team to the win on Stagg Field Wednesday afternoon.

In a game that was very even statistically, it was the goaltending that proved to be the deciding factor. Maher stopped 17 of the 30 shots he faced in the game, while his counterpart, Gaudio, made six saves on 31 shots.

Offensively for the Pride, Eric Balslov had a huge performance, tallying four assists and two goals for a game-high six points. Mike Delia posted five assists and a goal, while Shane Ferguson found the back of the cage four times. Ryan Murphy tallied three goals and an assist and Branden Fernandez scooped up a team-best six ground balls.

For the visitors, Giordano was the lone Panther with multiple points as he recorded two goals and two assists. Junior Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.) was all over the field, causing three turnovers to go along with a game-high seven ground balls.

Senior Jack Balaban (Washington, D.C.) opened up the scoring as he converted along the crease 1:07 into the game to give the Panthers an early lead. Just seven seconds later, Murphy stuck his shot low following a great look from Ryon Lynch to even the game. Middlebury then took their final lead of the game at the 7:42 mark of the opening quarter on a man-up strike from Giordano.

From that point on, the Pride rattled off nine unanswered goals and held the visitors off the scoreboard for nearly 21 minutes. Consecutive strikes from Balslov in the final 2:27 of the first quarter provided the hosts with a 3-2 lead.

In the second, Springfield scored the first seven goals, including six in a 4:32 span to blow the game open. Goals from Dom Roberto and Mike Donoghue just nine seconds apart with 3:21 left gave the hosts an eight-goal cushion at 10-2. Giordano finally broke the Panthers drought with a shot that found the top corner as the teams went into halftime with the score 10-3.

Ferguson kicked off the third quarter with a highlight reel goal, battling through checks along the crease before scoring with 13:07 on the clock. Senior Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.)  answered back for the Panthers with 10:57 to go, but markers from Ferguson and Murphy made the score 13-4 after three quarters of play.

Dylan Sheehan got into the scoring mix to put Springfield up 10 with 11:30 remaining after he found the lower corner of the cage following a great look from Balslov. Middlebury’s Redmond closed out the scoring 18 seconds later, and the Pride used five saves from Maher in the quarter to hold on for the win.
• Men’s lacrosse record: 2-1
• Up next: 3/20 vs. Cortland @ Albany, 3/24 @ Wesleyan