Men's Lacrosse Falls In NESCAC Title Game
May 9, 2010
The Middlebury men's lacrosse team lost its first NESCAC Championship game by a score of 13-12 at Tufts on Sunday afternoon. The sixth-ranked Jumbos won their first title and will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. #16 Middlebury saw its hopes of an eighth NESCAC crown come up short and will hope for an at-large bid to the tourney.
Tufts (16-1) scored six unanswered goals, including two each by juniors D.J. Hessler and Matt Witko, to battle back from a four-goal deficit and earn the win over Middlebury (11-5). Witko scored four goals overall and Hessler finished with two goals and two assists to lead the Jumbos, who had advanced to the final with an 11-10 comeback win against Wesleyan on Saturday. Junior David Hild scored a game-high seven points with five goals and two assists to lead Middlebury.
Hild scored twice for Middlebury in the first period, including a goal with 23 seconds remaining that gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead after one. Tufts dominated early in the second quarter, scoring five goals in the first 3:26 to go up 7-3. Witko had two goals during the stretch. However, the momentum shifted dramatically towards Middlebury late in the second quarter. They ran off a five-goal run of their own, including two more by Hild, and the Panthers led 8-7 at halftime.
Middlebury extended its run to eight straight goals by continuing to control the game and scoring the first three goals of the second half. The Panthers led 11-7 on a tally by Eric Pfeffer with 5:17 remaining in the third. Hild scored and assisted the first two Panthers goals of the second half, and the seven-time conference champions looked poised to add to their trophy case.
In a game of dramatic shifts, Tufts stopped the run with Hessler's goal at 2:06 of the third that started their own game-winning rally. Back-to-back goals by Witko tied the score at 11-11 with 12:04 to go in the fourth. Then from behind the net, Hessler made a move to beat his defender and scored the go-ahead goal unassisted at the 9:23 mark. Jumbo senior Jamie Atkins scored an insurance goal at 8:53, which was much needed when Cahill converted a pass from Hild at 2:11 to pull the Panthers within 12-11. Tufts sophomore Nick Rhoads won the ensuing draw, Middlebury did not get another shot on net, and the Jumbos stormed the field to celebrate their first conference title.
Rhoads dominated the face-off circle for Tufts, winning 18 out of 27. Sophomores Sean Kirwan and Kevin McCormick both had two goals and an assist for the Jumbos. Senior Eytan Saperstein was immense on defense, grabbing eight ground balls, while senior Mike Droesch added four. Sophomore Steve Foglietta made eight saves in goal, with two in each period.
Cahill finished with three goals and two assists for Middlebury, who also received a pair of tallies from junior Andrew Conner. Junior goalie Ryan Deane led the Panthers with six ground balls and made 13 saves.