April 11, 2011

            The 12th-ranked Amherst College men’s lacrosse team scored three goals in a span of 1:07 late in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 9-7 upset win over seventh-ranked Middlebury College, marking the first time since 1989 the Lord Jeffs have defeated the Panthers.

            Middlebury entered Wednesday afternoon’s game at Gooding Field with a 25-game win streak against Amherst, but the Lord Jeffs (8-1, 4-1) continued to roll by picking up their eighth consecutive victory, moving them into sole possession of third place in the conference standings.

            Only 23 seconds after junior captain Evan Redwood scored to tie the game at 7-7, first-year Devin Acton spun off a defender and ripped a high shot into the top corner, providing the Jeffs with what proved to be the game-winning goal.

            Junior Alex Fox tallied three goals and assisted on two others to lead the Jeffs—and closed out the scoring on an unassisted goal with 3:30 remaining in regulation. Junior Cole Cherney added two goals and an assist, while goalie Sam Jakimo recorded 12 saves to improve to 8-0.

            Junior Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.) scored three goals and sophomore Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.) added four assists to lead the Panthers. Middlebury senior goalkeeper Ryan Deane (Grosse Point, Mich.) turned away 10 shots in net for Middlebury, which out-shot the Jeffs by a 31-29 margin.

            The Panthers held possession early on, but two Jakimo saves off shots from point-blank range kept Middlebury off the board. Amherst struck first when Fox gained position on a defender and beat Deane with a hard shot from the top of the crease. The Jeffs doubled their lead with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter when Acton fed Cherney, who ripped a low shot between Deane’s legs to make it 2-0.

            Early in the second quarter Middlebury senior Sam Palmisano (Southport, Conn.) beat Jakimo with a shot into the low right corner, cutting the deficit to 2-1. It seemed that Amherst would respond soon after, but shots from both Fox and Acton clanked off the post. 

            Middlebury evened the score at 2-2 with 5:44 to play in the second when Deane made a save and caught the Jeffs off-guard with a long exit pass. After two more quick passes in the Amherst zone, Giordano fed Cahill, who finished the counter-attack with a quick one-timer into the back of the net.

            First-year Aaron Mathias put the Jeffs up 3-2 with a high shot from atop the crease, but the Panthers fought back with their third of the day off a quick juke and shot from senior Andrew Connor (Alexandria, Va.) to send the teams into halftime knotted at 3-3.

            Middlebury’s efficient man-up unit supplied the Panthers with their first lead of the game 1:28 into the second half, again off a Giordano-to-Cahill connection. Amherst responded when Fox sent a pass across the goal mouth to Cherney, who reached the head of his stick around the near post and stuffed a shot home, tying the game at 4-4.

            With 5:17 to play in the third, Fox again put the Jeffs ahead. After outrunning two Middlebury defenders from the top of the zone, the junior midfielder ripped a hard shot from a tough angle over Deane’s left shoulder to send Amherst into the final quarter with a 5-4 lead.

            After another Conner goal squared the score at 5-5, Amherst sophomore Ramsey Bates made a run from behind net and snuck a shot from mid-air between the post and Deane’s right shoulder. The Panthers again did not back down, as Cahill’s third tally of the day and a goal from junior Alex Englert (Wellesley, Mass.) left the Jeffs trailing 7-6 with 7:54 to play.

            After Redwood, Acton and Fox put home consecutive goals to hand the lead back to Amherst at 9-7 with 3:30 to go, the Lord Jeff defense bore down and held on for the remainder of the period. 

            Middlebury senior David Hild (W. Hartford, Conn.) posted a career-high eight points in a 16-12 victory over Bowdoin in NESCAC men's lacrosse action Saturday at Ryan Field. The seventh-ranked Panthers improve to 6-2 (4-2 NESCAC) with the victory while the Polar Bears fall for the fourth time in their last five outings and drop to 3-6 (1-5 NESCAC).

            Hild tallied a game-high five goals and added a career-best three assists to lead Middlebury. Cahill also pitched in five goals while Conner had three scores and an assist for the visitors. Bowdoin was paced with three goals each from Owen Smith and Keegan Mehlhorn. Russell Halliday had a pair of goals and three assists for the Polar Bears.

            Middlebury jumped out to a 3-0 lead just 3:43 into the contest, but Bowdoin responded with a 6-1 run to end the opening quarter, including a pair of Halliday scores, to take a 6-4 edge into the second quarter. The Panthers took control from there, outscoring Bowdoin 9-2 over the second and third periods as Cahill scored all five of his goals, including four straight at one point, to give Middlebury a 13-8 lead heading into the final quarter.

            Bowdoin could get no closer than four goals in the final period. Deane stopped 15 shots and grabbed four ground balls in net for Middlebury. Robert Burkhardt made eight stops in the cage for Bowdoin. The Polar Bears held a 60-47 edge in shots, but committed 22 turnovers on the afternoon. Brendan Hughes won 16 of 27 in the faceoff circle for the Polar Bears, grabbing 13 ground balls. Sophomores Brian Foster (Medfield, Mass.) and Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.) led Middlebury with five ground balls apiece.
• Men’s lacrosse record: 6-2
• Up next: 4/12 @ Skidmore, 4/16 @ Trinity