Men's Lax Captures Sixth NESCAC Title
May 7, 2006
Defenseman Gabe Wood drove the length of the field and scored a man-down goal as time expired to break a 9-9 tie and lift Middlebury to a 10-9 victory over Wesleyan in the NESCAC title game. The long-stick defender dodged several opponents on his way down the field, switching to a left-handed shot just outside the crease for the tally. Middlebury receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while Wesleyan will hope for an at-large bid. The selections will be announced Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. on CSTV. The win was the third consecutive for the Panthers over the Cardinals in the title game, avenging an earlier season loss.
Middlebury opened the scoring at 11:49 in the first quarter when Henry Sheehan put one past Wesleyan goalie Charlie Congleton giving the Panthers a 1-0 advantage. The Cardinals would knot the game at one with just over one minute remaining as Chris Jasinski scored a man-up goal.
In the second quarter, Middlebury regained the lead at the 12:03 mark when Jim Cabrera scored the first of his game-high four goals. Cabrera, on a man-up advantage, made a nice dodge to the net for the tally, and the 2-1 lead. The Cardinals scored the next four of the quarter, sparked by Grayson Connors three goals, including a man-up score with only 10 seconds left in the half. Wesleyan took a 5-2 lead into the halftime break.
The Cardinals built on their lead in the third, as Connors again found the touch, this time scoring from the doorstep off a nice pass from teammate Russell Follansbee to extend their lead to 6-2. Middlebury finally broke a 15:20 scoring drought at 11:36 of the third, when Nick Bastis drove in from the right side for the score. Wesleyan answered the score less than two minutes later when Jordan Funt slipped a shot past Panther netminder Alex Palmisano from the right side giving the Cardinals a 7-3 lead.
The Panthers rallied to score three straight goals in 1:24 as Cabrera launched a long shot from the top of the box at 7:54 to start the run. Just nine seconds after winning the ensuing face-off, Peter Mellen picked up a ground ball and raced in for the goal with a low shot. Cabrera netted the third goal of the run with 6:20 remaining, firing another low shot, this one from 20 yards out, cutting the Wesleyan lead to one, at 7-6.
In the fourth, Middlebury tied the game at seven at the 7:00 mark when Bastis scored with a low shot from the right side. With 5:52 remaining, Wesleyan regained the lead 8-7 on a score by Mike Vitulano, who found some space in close for the goal. Cabrera answered for the Panthers with a long bounce shot that went over Congleton's shoulder at the 5:02 mark. The Cardinals again managed to score from close range as Vitulano's goal gave the lead back to Wesleyan 9-8 with only 3:12 left to play. Sheehan scored the 9-9 equalizer at 1:48, as he wrapped around the net and put the ball top-side. Wesleyan failed on a late man-up opportunity, setting up Wood's game-winner.
Cabrera led the Panthers with four goals and an assist as Bastis and Sheehan each had two scores and one assist. Wesleyan was led by Connor's four goals and Vitulano's two scores, while Glenn Adams chipped in with three assists. Both goalies made double-digit saves as Middlebury's Palmisano had 10 and Wesleyan's Congleton had 17 saves.
GOALS: Grayson Connors 4; Mike Vitulano 2; Jordan Funt 1; Alex Kaufman 1; Chris Jasinski 1.
ASSISTS: Glenn Adams 3; Russell Follansbee 1; Jordan Funt 1.
GOALS: Jim Cabrera 4; Nick Bastis 2; Henry Sheehan 2; Peter Mellen 1; Gabe Wood 1.
ASSISTS: Nick Bastis 1; Jim Cabrera 1; Aaron Herter 1; Henry Sheehan 1.
SHOTS - WES 27; MID 40.
PENALTIES - WES 1/1:00; MID 4/3:30.
MAN-UP OPPORTUNITIES - WES 2-4; MID 0-1.
FACEOFFS - WES 8-22; MID 14-22.
CLEARS - WES 22-27; MID 17-20.
WES: Charlie Congleton (60:00 minutes, 17 saves, 10 GA);
MID: Alex Palmisano (60:00, 10 saves, 9 GA).