May 16, 2011

            The Panther lacrosse team saw its season come to an end, falling 12-9 in an NCAA second-round game at Amherst. This marks just the second time in the last 14 years the Panthers did not advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinal round, finishing the season with a 13-4 mark. Middlebury held a 59-39 lead in shots and 40-28 edge in ground balls, but it wasn’t enough.

            The Jeffs received four points from Cole Cherney and a career-high 25 saves from Sam Jakimo to lead them to victory.

            Devin Acton and Cherney each scored three goals for Amherst, while Evan Redwood  and Alex Fox  had two apiece. The Panthers were led by three goals and an assist from rookie John McGoldrick (Norwalk, Conn.), while senior Andrew Conner (Alexandria, Va.) scored twice and added a helper. Senior goalie Ryan Deane (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) made nine saves to end his season with a 13-5 record.

            Middlebury jumped out to a 2-0 lead and held the Jeffs scoreless for the opening nine minutes. Junior Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.) got things going when he finished off a feed from sophomore Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.) 2:01 into the game, and sophomore Erich Pfeffer (Glastonbury, Conn.) made it 2-0 with 7:34 to go in the first period.

            Amherst got unassisted goals from Acton, Redwood and Cherney in the final six minutes of the period, as the Jeffs carried a 3-2 lead into the second quarter. Cherney’s go-ahead goal was particularly impressive, as he picked off a pass from Deane and quickly capitalized on the turnover with only 53 seconds on the clock.

            The Panthers tied things up at 3-3 43 seconds into the second period on a quick transition goal, with McGoldrick finding Hild for the tying score. Amherst regained the lead 10 seconds later when Duncan Morrissey won a face-off and found an open Parker Holcomb, who beat Deane to bring the score to 4-3.

            Acton pushed Amherst’s lead to 6-3 with a pair of goals in a span of less than two minutes, but McGoldrick answered by scoring twice in only 30 seconds at 9:53 and 9:23. After Redwood and Fox each scored to give the Jeffs an 8-5 edge, Middlebury rookie Darric White (Huntington, N.Y.) came up with a big play when he forced a turnover at midfield and took the ball in himself, beating Jakimo to cut his team’s deficit to two goals 1:41 before halftime.

            The pivotal third quarter belonged to the Lord Jeffs, who out-scored the Panthers by a 4-1 margin to carry a 12-7 lead into the final period. Cherney scored twice in the third, but it was Jeff Izzo ’13 who earned style points when he picked up a rebound after a Deane save and quickly shoveled the ball into the back of the net as he was still on the ground. Conner stopped a three-goal Amherst spurt when he ripped a laser just inside the post, but Fox scored with only 13.6 seconds left in the third to bring the score to 12-7.

            An unassisted goal by Conner at 12:18 gave Middlebury some early momentum in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers would not get goal number nine until McGoldrick rifled a shot past Jakimo with 2:46 to play. That would be the Panthers’ final goal of the season, as they moved to 32-12 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.

            On Wednesday, Middlebury used an 11-goal first half run to pull away from in-state opponent Castleton State en route to a 24-7 NCAA first-round win on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. The 24 goals by Middlebury are the most goals scored since netting 25 back in March of 2004 against NEC.

            Castleton had an auspicious start, scoring 13 seconds into the game, as long-stick defender Alex Brands scooped up a groundball on the initial face-off for the ice-breaker. The Spartans made it 2-0 on a 15-yard shot by Sam Bailey at 13:28. Castleton wouldn’t score during the next 21:24 of action as Middlebury pounded out 11 straight goals in that span.

            Conner scored four goals and senior David Hild (W. Hartford, Conn.) collected a hat-trick during the run, as Conner opened the scoring at 13:06 in the first quarter and Hild closed the burst at 8:08 in the second. Cahill netted the equalizer at 12:03 in the first on a man-up tally. Middlebury junior Peter Jennings (Wellesley, Mass.) scored the go-ahead goal six seconds later after winning the face-off. Jennings split time as the face-off specialist, winning 11-18 attempts on the day.

            Trailing 11-2, the Spartans added a pair of goals to answer, but the Panthers responded with three more goals in a 37 second span for a 14-4 lead with 51 seconds left in the half. In the waning seconds of the half, Castleton forced a turnover deep in Middlebury’s defensive zone, that allowed Alex Green to score with one second left in to play.

            With a five-goal burst, the Panthers extended their lead to 19-5 by the 7:58 mark in the third quarter. The Spartans added a pair of goals later in the third, including Bailey’s second of the game. Middlebury capped the scoring with another five-goal run, highlighted by a nifty cross-crease pass from Giordano to senior Darren Scheufele (Weston, Conn.).

            Hild led all scorers with seven points, adding four assists to his hat-trick, as Conner finished with six points on five tallies and one helper. McGoldrick notched three goals and two assists, as Cahill finished with four scores. Giordano chipped in with three assists with one goal, while Scheufele and senior Brooks Toth (Bronxville, N.Y.) each added a pair of goals. Deane earned the win in goal, playing the first 30 minutes, making two saves, while senior Charles Ward (Alexandria, Va.) played the second half, making eight stops in net.

            The Panthers out-shot Castleton 54-30, trailed in groundballs to the Spartans 50-44, and won 15-33 face-offs.

• Men’s lacrosse final record: 13-5