Men’s lacrosse falls to Tufts

Men’s lacrosse (5-10, 4-5 in the NESCAC) finished its season with two conference losses last weekend. Tufts downed the men 13-9 in the NESCAC quarterfinal game on Sunday, ending the team’s chance at a NESCAC title. The game against Tufts came after a 4-3 loss to Middlebury at home on Friday night.

Tufts got on the board early in the first period on Sunday, as Jumbo Ryan Molloy scored his first goal of the game past Eph netminder Stephen Vrla ’10 just 1:07 into the game. Seven minutes later, Michael Acierno ’12 scored off a feed from co-captain Rich Reuter ’10 to tie the game at 1-1. Tufts then collected two more goals in the next five minutes. Tim Goggins ’12 narrowed the gap with 1:19 left on the period off a pass from Bryan Wrapp ’10.

Williams, down 3-2 heading into the second period, seemed paralyzed by the Tufts offensive run that opened up in the beginning of the second quarter. The Jumbos tallied four more goals in the first 10 minutes of the quarter, putting them up 7-2 before Matt Cranshaw ’11 put a stop to the Jumbos’ run with an unassisted goal with just under five minutes left in the half. The teams traded goals before the half closed, with Tufts scoring at the 1:14-minute mark before Mike Ryan ’12 answered with a goal of his own just over 30 seconds later. Williams headed off the field at halftime trailing 8-4.

Coming out of the break, Reuter started the men off with a quick goal before two minutes had elapsed. Jumbo Justin Atkins seemed to cut the Ephs’ possible momentum off with a goal just over three minutes later, but a four-goal rally sustained throughout the rest of the period allowed the men to tie the game up at 9-9. Goggins, Cranshaw and Wrapp all tallied goals on the offensive run before Sam Hargrove ’12 was able to even the score with his 19th goal of the season with 2:48 left in the third quarter.

Tufts, however, responded with a goal of its own right at the end of the third before hitting its stride with a three-goal fourth. The Jumbos shut the Ephs out in the fourth period for a 13-9 final score. Vrla had 12 saves on the game, but couldn’t neutralize the Ephs’ shooting deficit: The men took 27 shots to Tufts’ 46.

“The score might not indicate it at the end, but I thought it was a pretty well-balanced game,” Head Coach George McCormack said. “Tufts was able to finish strong in the fourth quarter and their ability to do that was the difference in the game.”

The loss comes just after a tough 4-3 loss to Middlebury on Saturday. The tight game was back-and-forth throughout the first half: Acierno scored the first goal of the game just 2:31 in, but Middlebury tied it up 1-1 before the first 15 minutes expired. A good look by Cranshaw from behind the net got the ball to Reuter in front of the goal in the beginning of the second period. The co-captain fired a shot past the Panthers’ netminder to put Williams up 2-1. Middlebury evened up the score within five minutes, but a goal from Ryan reopened the Ephs’ lead before a last-second Panther goal tied the men at 3-3 at the end of the first half. A scoreless third period and unanswered Middlebury goal partway through the fourth quarter left the men just short of the win at 4-3.

The NESCAC quarterfinal loss marks the end of the team’s season and the end of the line for eight graduating Ephs. A strong roster of returning players will provide a critical foundation for the team as it looks to build onthis season next year.

“It was a frustrating year, but it was also a really positive year in regards to … coming back every week, being able to refocus and go out and do it again,” McCormack said. “We’re going to try to build on the strong defense we played this year, increase our offensive output and retain our strong goaltending and faceoff performance.”

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