Men's Lax Prepares To Host Nazareth In NCAA Semifinals

May 20, 2004

5/20/04 - Middlebury will host <?xml:namespace prefix = "st1" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Nazareth in one of two NCAA Division III men's lacrosse semifinal match-ups on Sunday, May 23rd. The game will take place at 3:00 p.m., following Middlebury College's graduation. Washington College of Maryland will visit Salisbury University in the tournament's other semifinal. The winners will meet for the NCAA Championship at noon on Sunday, May 30th at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

Middlebury is making its sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA semifinals, advancing to the title game in each of the previous five seasons. The Panthers lost their first title game in '99, before winning three consecutive national championships from '00-'02. The streak ended last season with an overtime loss to Salisbury.

This season, the Panthers earned the right to play in the tournament with a 12-7 win over Wesleyan in the NESCAC Championship game. Last Sunday, Middlebury won its opening round NCAA Tournament game with a 14-5 victory over Geneseo State. Middlebury outscored Geneseo 8-1 in the second half as Mike Saraceni led the team with three goals on the afternoon. On Wednesday, an 11-1 halftime lead held up as Middlebury had little trouble with Stevens Institute with a 17-5 win in the quarterfinals. Charley Howe exploded for five first half goals and ended the game with six to lead all goal-scorers.

Middlebury has an overall tournament record of 21-4 (.840), boasting the highest winning percentage in tournament history of any team still competing in Division III. Middlebury will also be riding a 45-game winning streak on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. The streak dates back to a loss seven years ago to Division I Vermont, on April 16th of 1997.

Middlebury and Nazareth are no stranger to big games, having met four times in the NCAA Tournament since '98. The Panthers hosted and defeated Nazareth 21-12 in the NCAA quarterfinals last season, after defeating the Golden Flyers 21-14 in the '01 semifinals in Rochester. The teams met in the '00 semifinals, with Middlebury earning another road win with a 13-8 victory. Nazareth had won the previous two meetings, a 14-7 win in the '98 NCAA quarterfinals and a 10-3 win in the '97 regular season.

Leading Middlebury's scoring attack this season have been Mike Saraceni (32-37-69), Charley Howe (41-11-52) and Mark Foster (29-13-42). Andrew Giordano (16-16-32) and Dave Leach (13-9-22) are among the leaders, while Peter Mellen wins 61% of his face-offs.  In goal, Eric Krieger has a 6.25 goals against average.

Nazareth advanced to the semifinals with a 10-8 win over Cortland State, avenging a 13-12 overtime loss to the Red Dragons earlier in the season. The '96 and '97 NCAA Champions earned an 18-4 NCAA Tournament win over E. Connecticut in the first-round of the tourney, and a 7-5 win over Ithaca in the Empire 8 Championship game. Justin Wahl (39-15-54) and Brandon Brown (30-24-54) lead the team in scoring. Bryan Coon (30-13-43), Bryan Adams (35-4-39) and Brian Navarra (12-26-38) round out the top scorers. In goal, Alex Civalier sports an 8.06 GAA.

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2004 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament

Quarterfinals, Wednesday, May 19th

Middlebury 17, Stevens Institute 5

Nazareth 10, Cortland St. 8

Salisbury 15, Washington & Lee 6

Washington College 9, Gettysburg 8

Semifinals, Sunday, May 23rd

Middlebury (16-1) vs. Nazareth (15-2) - 3:00 p.m.

Washington College (18-2) @ Salisbury (18-0) - 1:00 p.m.

Championship, Sunday, May 30th - M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md. - 12:00 p.m.