May 2, 2011

Senior David Hild’s (W. Hartford, Conn.) goal 18 seconds into the second overtime lifted Middlebury past Colby 10-9 in a NESCAC quarterfinal game at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium on Sunday. The 11th-ranked Panthers (11-3) advance to the NESCAC semifinals, playing Trinity at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at Tufts, while the Mules end their season at 9-7. Bowdoin meets the host school in the other semifinal at noon.

            Middlebury jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter. Rookie John McGoldrick (Norwalk, Conn.) netted a pair during the run, including the ice-breaker at 12:03 off a man-up feed from Hild. Senior Andrew Connor (Alexandria, Va.) capped the first quarter with a laser shot from 15 yards out with 4:10 left. The Panthers held a decisive 5-1 face-off lead in the quarter, holding the nation’s third-best face-off specialist Craig Bunker (.723 wins) at bay in the early going.

            Colby responded with a three-goal burst, cutting the Panther lead to 4-3 at the 8:10 mark in the second quarter, as Mark Squicciarino added two assists in the rally. The teams alternated goals twice more before McGoldrick notched his third of the game with :01 left in the half, setting the score at 7-5 for Middlebury.

            Conner opened the third quarter, sweeping to his right for a goal from 12 yards away and an 8-5 lead at 5:51. The Mules answered with their second three-goal run, tying the game at 8-8 on a Squicciarino goal during a five-on-five situation with 12:14 in the fourth quarter.

            Sophomore Billy Chapman (Greenwich, Conn.) gave the Panthers a 9-8 lead as the long-stick defender scored on a fast break at 9:25. Colby tied it again on John Jennings’ man-up tally at 6:37, capping the regulation scoring.

            In the first four-minute overtime, the Mules won the face-off on a Middlebury procedure call. After a Colby timeout, the Mules launched a shot wide. Retaining possession, Colby was stripped of the ball by Panther junior defenseman Matt Rayner (Andover, Mass.), who grabbed the ground ball and started the clear attempt. Middlebury later turned the ball over in their offensive end, allowing two more Colby shots on goal, one saved by senior goalie Ryan Deane (Grosse Pointe, Mich.). The Panthers pushed the ball into the offensive end and after a timeout with 45 seconds, had their lone shot of the first overtime blocked.      

            A frenetic scrum for the face-off win started the second overtime. Colby ended up with possession near their cage and a pass to the Mules’ goalie, to set up a clear, was intercepted by Hild on the doorstep. Hild ended the game with the point-blank goal as the Panthers move on to the NESCAC semifinals.

            McGoldrick paced Middlebury with a hat-trick and one assist, while sophomore Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.) and Conner each added a pair of goals. Hild had a hand in the first and last goals for the Panthers, assisting the opener and tallying the game-winner. Rayner led the Panthers with seven ground balls, as Middlebury owned a 46-36 advantage on Colby overall. Deane made 18 saves over 64:18 in goal for the win.

            On Friday, Middlebury broke an 8-8 tie in the fourth quarter against Williams, outscoring the Ephs 4-1 en route to a 12-9 victory. The Panthers own a recent 17-2 lead in the series and are 39-22 overall against their Route 7 rivals.

            The Ephs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, as Tucker Dayton scored his second and third goals of his career during the run. Middlebury answered with a five-goal burst before the Ephs ended the half with a goal in the final minute for a 5-4 Panther advantage at the break.

            Giordano opened the run at 1:01 in the first quarter as Conner scored his 29th goal of the year with 11 seconds left in the quarter. Hild added his 35th and 36th goals in the second, bookending a tally by McGoldrick at 2:34.

            Middlebury opened the third quarter with a goal on a physical move at the crease by junior Tim Cahill (Glastonbury, Conn.), for a 6-4 lead with 13:25 remaining. Williams tied the game with a pair of goals, including the equalizer by Tommy Murray who spun out of a Panther double-team at the 10:00 mark. The teams exchanged a pair of goals to end the third tied at eight apiece.

            McGoldrick opened the decisive fourth quarter with a goal at 14:37 off a feed from senior Alex Giammarco (Medfield, Mass.). Less than a minute later, sophomore Erich Pfeffer (Glastonbury, Conn.) notched an unassisted tally on a left-side bounce shot for a 10-8 lead. First-year player Darric White (Fairfield, Conn.) scored his first career goal at 7:42, as the long-stick defenseman collected a pass from Giordano.

            The Ephs answered at 5:00, as Murray scored from in close, cutting the Panther lead to 11-9. Hild responded with his 38th on the season off a pass from Cahill for a 12-9 lead with 2:11 remaining.

            Hild finished with a game-best four goals and one assist, as Giordano added two goals and one helper. Deane made 10 saves while grabbing a team-best 10 ground balls, earning the win in net. Middlebury was a perfect 29-29 in clearing attempts, outshooting the Ephs 43-38.  
• Men’s lacrosse record: 11-3
• Up next: 5/7 vs. Trinity @ Tufts – 3:00, if win – 5/8 – NESCAC Championship – 12:00