April 25, 2011

            The Middlebury men’s lacrosse team held an early 3-0 lead over Tufts, but a late three-goal burst by the Jumbos gave Tufts an 11-8 victory at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium on Saturday. In a game pitting two top 10 teams, the fourth-ranked Jumbos improve to 11-1 overall and sit atop the NESCAC with a 8-0 record, clinching the top seed with one conference game to play. The 10th ranked Panthers (8-3, 5-3) could host a quarterfinal game on Sunday, May 1 with either a win against Williams or a loss by Wesleyan on Friday, April 29.

            Middlebury scored a pair of quick goals inside the first two minutes of play, as rookie George Curtis (Nashville, Tenn.) made it a 3-0 lead on a transition goal at 9:38. Tufts answered with three straight goals later in the quarter, as Jumbo leading-scorer D.J. Hessler assisted on all three. The Panthers regained the lead on a sophomore Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.) tally at 2:06.

            In the second quarter, Tufts scored a pair, as Hessler bullied his way in for a doorstep score at 8:46 and Kevin McCormick put a high corner shot past Panther senior goalie Ryan Deane (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) 36 seconds later for a 5-4 lead. Junior Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.) scored the equalizer for Middlebury at 4:55 off a nice feed from senior David Hild (W. Hartford, Conn.).

            In the third quarter, the teams alternated scores twice, before Hessler notched his second goal on a two-man advantage at 1:37, for an 8-7 lead. Hild answered in the fourth on a transition score set-up by a great pass from sophomore Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.), tying the game at eight-all with 13:25 left to play.

            Tufts broke the tie, starting its decisive run on a Matt Callahan tally with 11:36 remaining. Sean Kirwan’s long-stick goal at 6:41 gave the Jumbos a 10-8 lead before Matt Witko scored an empty-net goal with 59 seconds left to play, for the 11-8 victory.

            Middlebury out-shot Tufts 57-39, matched the Jumbos in groundballs 41-41, and trailed Tufts 14-9 in face-off wins.

            Senior Andrew Connor (Alexandria, Va.) and sophomore Erich Pfeffer (Glastonbury, Conn.) paced the Panthers with two goals each, while Hild and Giordano each added a goal and an assist, as Deane made 14 saves in goal.

            Middlebury used a 4-0 run in the third quarter, breaking a 7-7 tie, to pull away from visiting Rensselaer (RPI) 13-9 on Tuesday.

            After an 11-goal first quarter, RPI held a 6-5 lead. The lead grew to 7-5 in the second quarter on a fast-break score by Devin Arnold at 6:15. Arnold, who recently returned to the field after serving a one minute penalty, caught a pass at the midfield line and raced in for the score. The Panthers tied the game with a pair of goals as Cahill scored a man-up goal at 4:14, while Conner put one past RPI goalie James Manchester as time expired in the half for a 7-7 score.

            Middlebury went on its decisive run in the third, when Cahill netted his second at 8:31. Giordano sandwiched his lone goal between a pair of Hild tallies for an 11-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

            The Engineers ended a 22:05 scoring drought when Arnold scored his fourth of the game at 14:10 in the fourth, cutting the Panther lead to 11-8. Both teams exchanged goals before Cahill notched his hat trick at 4:34, capping the scoring.

            Conner, Hild and Cahill each scored three goals, while Conner chipped in an assist for Middlebury. The Panthers held a 37-30 groundball advantage, as Chapman vacuumed up a career-best 10 groundballs. Deane earned the win in goal for Middlebury, stopping 13 shots.

            Arnold led RPI with four goals, while Andrew Miller tacked on three for the Engineers. Manchester played 59:18 in net for RPI, making 12 saves, while allowing all 13 goals.
• Men’s lacrosse record: 9-3
• Up next: 4/29 vs. Williams – 4:30, 5/1 – NESCAC Quarterfinals vs. TBA – 1:00