Men's Lacrosse Prepares For Title Run - Sat. Webcast Canceled

May 5, 2010

The Middlebury College men's lacrosse team will look for its eighth NESCAC Championship this weekend when they travel to Tufts. The second-seeded Jumbos earned the right to host after eighth-seeded and defending NESCAC champion Wesleyan ousted top-seeded Connecticut College in the quarterfinals this past Sunday. Tufts and Wesleyan will meet in the first semifinal on Saturday, May 8, at 12:00 p.m. in a rematch of last year's championship tilt and will be followed at 3:00 p.m. when sixth-seeded Middlebury clashes with fourth-seeded Bowdoin. The 2010 NESCAC Men's Lacrosse Championship concludes on Sunday, May 9 at 12:00 p.m. Middlebury enters the tournament ranked 16th nationally.

The Panthers will look to return to the title game after a two-year absence. Middlebury won the first six NESCAC titles as the top seed, winning its eighth crown in '07 as the sixth seed in the tourney at Tufts. The Panthers are 16-2 overall in NESCAC Tournament play, winning all seven title games they've appeared in.

This season, Middlebury opened league play with back-to-back wins over Bates and Wesleyan before suffering back-to-back one-goal losses to Connecticut College (8-7) and Colby (9-8). Following a 14-6 victory over Amherst, the Panthers dropped their first contest to the Polar Bears since 2002 in an 11-6 loss on April 10. Middlebury went on to win five of its next six contests and heads into the semis with a two-game winning streak thanks to a 4-3 win at Williams on Friday and a 15-12, come-from-behind win at Amherst on Sunday in the first round.

The Middlebury defense is second only to Wesleyan among this weekend's field with a 7.21 goals against average (4th NESCAC). In net, junior goalkeeper Ryan Deane has played nearly every minute of every game, posting a 7.15 goals against average, a .628 save percentage (3rd in NESCAC), and a 10-4 record. Leading that defense this season have been senior Charlie Schopp and sophomore Matt Rayner (40 ground balls).

Offensively, senior Pete Smith leads the team with 35 points and 20 assists to go along with his 15 goals. Smith is also tops on the team with 54 ground balls and four man-up tallies in '10. He scored nine goals in a six-game stretch this season, owning five points over the past two games. The squad's other top attackman has been sophomore Tim Cahill, who has found the back of the net 14 times this season, including four goals at Amherst in the quarterfinals.

David Hild leads the team in goals with 23 from the offensive midfield. The junior has seven goals in his last three games, with eight multiple goal games this season. He also owns a team-high eight assists on the year.  Junior Andrew Conner is another top offensive middie, with 17 goals and five helpers this season, including two of each in last weekend's win over Amherst.

Semifinals - Saturday, May 8 at Tufts
No. 8 Wesleyan (8-7) at No. 2 Tufts (14-1) - 12:00 p.m.
No. 6 Middlebury (10-4) vs. No. 4 Bowdoin (9-6) - 3:00 p.m.

 Championship - Sunday, May 9 at Tufts
Semifinal Winners - 12:00 p.m.