Amherst drops men’s lacrosse 7-5

Men’s lacrosse (4-5, 3-3 in the NESCAC) suffered consecutive NESCAC defeats last week, falling 7-6 to Conn. College on Wednesday before seeing a fourth-quarter lead slip away at Amherst for a 7-5 defeat. The losses put Williams in the midst of a five-way tie for third in the NESCAC.

Williams and Amherst proved evenly matched throughout the majority of the game on Saturday. The score stayed at 0-0 until Sam Hargrove ’12 put the Ephs up 1-0 after tip-toeing around the crease to notch an unassisted goal with 5:12 left in the first period. The Jeffs slid two goals past Eph netminder Stephen Vrla ’10 in the last 2:16 of the period to put themselves up 2-1 at the end of the first period.

Hargrove continued to be effective on the offensive end for the Ephs at the start of the second: Just 3:48 into the quarter, he took advantage of an Eph power play, finding co-captain Richard Reuter ’10 in open space in the offensive third. Reuter collected Hargrove’s pass and fired a shot past Amherst’s netminder, tying the game at 2-2. Reuter tallied another goal when his shot ricocheted across the goal line off of the underside of the crossbar with 5:02 left in the half, putting the Ephs up 3-2. Amherst’s Dan Routh nullified the men’s advantage just before the two-minute mark, scoring to put the score at 3-3 heading into halftime.

The third period saw the Ephs’ offense slow: The Jeffs held the men scoreless throughout the period, while scoring to bring the score to 4-3 in favor of Amherst as the men moved into the fourth quarter of play.

Williams came out in full force for the final quarter of play. An Eph man advantage with 7:46 left in the period saw Michael Grover ’10 tie the game up at 4-4 with the men’s off of an assist from Tim Goggins ’12. Within a minute, Mike Ryan ’12 put the Ephs up 5-4 after he fired a shot that rocketed past Jakimo for his team-leading 11th goal of the season. In the last 6:01 of the game, however, Amherst erased the Williams lead and took control of the game: Three shots slipped past Vrla in the game’s final minutes to give the Jeffs a 7-5 win for the day.

Amherst’s edge during Saturday’s game came in the form of the team’s ability to outshoot Williams: The Jeffs recorded 35 shots to the Ephs’ 29. Despite Williams’ superior ground ball and faceoff results – the men claimed 42 ground balls to their opponents’ 40, and also won 10 of 16 faceoffs – Amherst still walked away with the victory. Even Vrla, who consistently stopped the ball throughout the game for a total of 14 saves, couldn’t stave off Amherst’s last-minute offensive rush.

Reuter gave his team reason to remain optimistic when reflecting on the weekend’s results. “As painful as [the Amherst] loss was, it’s important to remember that two seasons ago, when we won our program’s first NESCAC title, a devastating loss to Amherst served as a major turning point,” he said. “We hope that our recent loss can similarly re-motivate our team.”

The men were even more evenly matched against Conn. College on Wednesday. The Camels, who at press time were still undefeated on the season and ranked No. 1 in the NESCAC, edged the Ephs out 7-6 last week.

The game started off on a promising note, with Reuter edging a shot past the Camel netminder just 2:04 into the first period. The Camels, however, quickly responded with four goals to end the quarter up 4-1. Hargrove and Ryan turned the tables on their opponents quickly in the second quarter, combining for one assist and one goal each to narrow the Camels’ lead to 4-3. A neat full-field passing play saw a Goggins goal that made the score at 4-4 with 6:44 to play in the half. Corey Jacobs ’11 then put the Ephs up 5-4 just six seconds later.

A Camel goal midway through the third quarter – the only score of the period – tied the game at 5-5 heading into the fourth. Conn. College stepped up with another goal with 8:10 to play, bringing the score to 6-5. Ryan quickly answered, tying the game up yet again with just over three minutes left. Conn. College responded with another goal with just 1:10 to play, and, despite two Eph shots on goal in the last minute, the 7-6 score held as time expired.

The men’s close losses to Amherst and Conn. College come on the heels of a strong return home from a spring break road trip: Williams trounced Trinity 7-4 in its first home game in three weeks on April 3.

The team remains optimistic about NESCAC play. “The important thing to realize is that our three NESCAC losses have all been by a goal,” co-captain Andrew D’Ambrosio ’10 pointed out. “We [just] need to find a renewed sense of urgency … The season is not lost by any means, but the losing cannot continue.”

These mixed results mirrors the men’s spring break play as well: Williams went 2-3 on the two weeks, falling to Endicott, Tufts and Roanoke on March 30, 27 and 24. The first week of break was much more successful, as the men outscored Randolph-Macon 11-6 on March 23 after dominating Bates on March 20.

The men will travel to Union for a 7 p.m. game tonight before returning home to face conference rival Wesleyan at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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