Men's Lacrosse Set To Host NESCAC Championship Weekend

May 1, 2013

The 2013 NESCAC Men’s Lacrosse Championship returns to Middlebury’s Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium for the first time since 2009, as the top-seeded Panthers seek their first title since winning seven in a row from 2001 to 2007. The first semifinal takes place on Saturday, May 4 with Middlebury hosting fourth-seeded Wesleyan at 12:00 p.m., followed by second-seeded Connecticut College taking on third-seeded Tufts at 3:00 p.m. The Men’s Lacrosse Championship will conclude on Sunday, May 5 at 12:00 p.m.

Middlebury (13-2, 8-2 NESCAC) had quite the turnaround season after failing to qualify for the NESCAC championship last season for the first time in program history. The Panthers have strung together an impressive streak of making it to the semifinal round in each championship appearance, this year being no different, taking care of Amherst in the quarterfinal round by scoring a tournament record 19 goals. Middlebury started off the year with six straight wins, including four conference victories, before losing their first game to Bowdoin 7-6. After winning their next two games, the Panthers suffered their only other loss, another one-goal defeat, this time at the hands of Tufts, 14-13. Since then, Middlebury has racked up five consecutive wins, highlighted by a 15-14 regular season win at Williams to lock up the top-spot, when senior Andrew Metros (Great Neck, N.Y.) scored the game-winner with 12 seconds left. Helping the Panthers navigate their way through the championship will be one of the best offenses in the conference. Middlebury is second with 12.27 goals per game and possesses the best man-up unit, scoring on 37 percent of their chances. Leading the Panthers into the weekend are first year Jon Broome (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) and senior Mike Giordano (Ridgewood, N.J.). Broome tops the conference with 44 goals and 54 points, to go along with 10 assists. Giordano sits fifth in the NESCAC with 48 points and is fourth with 24 assists. Junior netminder Nate Gaudio (Cheshire, Conn.) has been a workhorse in goal, playing the second most minutes in the conference and totaling the third most saves with 162.

Standing in Middlebury’s way in the semifinals will be Wesleyan (12-4, 6-4 NESCAC). After making the semifinals in their first nine tournament appearances, the Cardinals are happy to be back in the semifinals, having been eliminated in their last two quarterfinal appearances. The Cardinals and Panthers are no strangers to meeting in the championship, facing off five times since 2004. Wesleyan dropped the first four meetings from 2004 to 2007, all in the title game. However, in 2009 the Cardinals exacted revenge in the semifinals with a 15-14 overtime win on their way to their only conference crown. The Cardinals needed a furious comeback just to claim a spot in the semifinals this year. Trailing Bowdoin 6-3 at the half, Wesleyan scored all three third-quarter goals to tie the game 6-6, then tied the game again at 7-7 with just over four minutes remaining. With 1:21 left in overtime, sophomore Quentin DellaFera (Locust Valley, N.Y.) scored the game-winner to send the Cardinals to their 10th semifinal appearance. All four of Wesleyan’s losses this season came in conference play by a combined five goals. One of those losses was to semifinal opponent Middlebury back on March 23 by a score of 7-6. Something will have to give this weekend when the Cardinals put up the conference’s top defense against one of the best offenses in Middlebury. As a team, Wesleyan boasts a goals against average of 5.72, has caused the most turnovers (149) and has the best penalty-killing unit (.900 percent). Junior goaltender Mark Simmons (East Hampton N.Y.) leads the conference with a 6.62 goals against average, while junior Sam Stanton (New Canaan, Ct.) has a team-leading 55 ground balls. Offensively, Wesleyan is led by sophomore David Murphy’s (East Northport, N.Y.) 16 goals and team-high 16 assists, and junior Remy Lieberman’s (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) team-best 22 goals.

Looking to make their first ever trip to the championship game will be Connecticut College (12-3, 8-2 NESCAC). The Camels and Tufts are meeting in the tournament for the third straight year, and the semifinals for the second year in a row. The two teams met in the quarterfinals in 2011 with Tufts winning 12-6. Last year Connecticut College fell 13-2 to the Jumbos in their second semifinal appearance in school history. The Camels began the season with one goal wins at Bowdoin and Tufts, but quickly dropped to 2-2 with an 11-4 loss against Middlebury and a non-conference loss to SUNY Plattsburgh. Since the two-game skid, Connecticut College has been on a roll, winning 10 of their last 11 games. The only setback was a 5-4 loss on April 13 at Hamilton, which the Camels avenged in the quarterfinals, posting an 8-6 win over the seventh-seeded Continentals. Along the way, Connecticut College won their final three regular season games with one-goal victories over tournament teams Amherst, Bates and Wesleyan. Connecticut College has proved to be a tough opponent to score on this season, posting a 6.50 goals against average as a team during the last six outings. First year goalie Bobby Bleistein (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) has played exceptionally well between the pipes in his first season, ranking first in the conference with a .670 save percentage and second with a 6.82 goals against average. Senior Andrew Freedman (Sudbury, Mass.) has been one of the top scorers in the conference with 51 points on 35 goals and 16 assists. Sophomore Chad Sawyer (Northfield, Ill.) has been equally explosive to the net, chipping in 30 goals.

For the first time in four years, three-time defending champion Tufts (12-4, 7-3) will not be hosting the NESCAC Championship. The Jumbos’ success of winning the conference title each of the past three years continues to translate well in the NCAA tournament. After winning their first NESCAC crown in 2010, Tufts completed a magical season by winning their first NCAA Championship. In 2011, the Jumbos finished as the national runner-up, while last year they made it to the national semifinals. Tufts has been nearly unstoppable since dropping their first two games of the season with one-goal losses to Hamilton and semifinal opponent Connecticut College. The Jumbos bounced back to win their next eight games and 12 of their last 14, losing only one conference game at Wesleyan by a score of 8-7 during the stretch. One of their best and closest conference wins of the schedule was a 14-13 nail-biter over top-seeded Middlebury on April 7, when Tufts held off a late rally by the Panthers to hold on for the victory.

Similar to the first semifinal match-up, the contest between Connecticut College and Tufts will also feature one of the conference’s top defenses in the Camels and the high-powered offense of the Jumbos. Tufts leads the conference with 13.69 goals per game and delivers two of the top goal scorers and one of the top assist men in the NESCAC. Sophomore Chris Schoenhut (Mill Neck, N.Y.) and junior Beau Wood (Sherwood Forest, Md.) both rank in the top six in goals scored with 35 and 34, respectively. Sophomore Cole Bailey (Millersville, Md.) currently had 26 assists, good for third in the conference.

Results for the NESCAC Men’s Lacrosse Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.

 Quarterfinals - Saturday, April 27
#1 Middlebury def. #8 Amherst, 19-9
#2 Connecticut College def. #7 Hamilton, 8-6
#3 Tufts def. #6 Bates, 14-10
#4 Wesleyan def. #5 Bowdoin, 8-7 OT

Semifinals - Saturday, May 4 - hosted by Middlebury
#4 Wesleyan vs. #1 Middlebury - 12:00 pm
#3 Tufts at #2 Connecticut College - 3:00 pm

Championship - Sunday, May 5 - hosted by Middlebury
Semifinal Winners - 12:00 p.m.

--courtesy NESCAC_--