Men’s lacrosse (10-6, 6-4 in the NESCAC) knocked off Middlebury twice last week, downing them in the first round of the NESCAC tournament after beating them in the final game of the regular season. With a 13-9 playoff victory last Saturday, the men will advance to the NESCAC tournament semifinals.
Last Saturday, the No. 4 seeded Ephs hosted the No. 5 Panthers at Cole Field. The men made a statement seconds into the game after tri-captain David Lee ’14 won the first face-off to give the men the first offensive possession of the contest. After only a minute of play, Steven Kiesel ’15 sent a ball straight into the back of the net to give the Ephs a lead over the Panthers. Shortly after Kiesel’s point, Jack Lauroesch ’16 added another point to the board. At this point, Middlebury stepped up its game as it took advantage of a loose ground ball in the midfield, transitioned upfield and scored a goal at the hands of Tim Giarusso. The Panthers’ effort created a break in the fluidity of the Ephs’ play as the Ephs received a penalty shortly after Giarusso’s goal, giving the Panthers control of the game for the next several minutes. During this time, Middlebury fired off several shots, but couldn’t find the back of the net as Williams goalie Dan Whittam ’15 remained stout between the pipes. The Ephs notched another tally before the first quarter came to a close, bringing the score to 3-1.
The Ephs rolled into the second quarter bringing momentum from the first. Within the first five minutes, Williams scored two goals and showcased a very controlled defense. The Ephs shut the Panthers out during the second quarter and a goal from Michael Fahey ’17 with 19 seconds remaining in the half pushed their lead to a 6-1 margin by the end of the half.
The third quarter began when the Panthers stormed out of their halftime huddle and notched two early goals, eager to make a comeback. However, the Ephs responded quickly with two important goals of their own for an 8-3 lead. The rest of the quarter contained several turnovers and fast-break transitions between the two teams, one of which ended in a Middlebury goal. Finally, Tanner MacIvor ’16 scored the last goal of the third quarter to bring the score to 9-4.
The fourth and final quarter was a battle between the two teams. Middlebury put in a renewed effort to score five goals to the men’s four but for Middlebury, its efforts were not enough. Both Joe Kinney ’15 and Conor Roddy ’16 contributed goals for the men and Fahey topped it off, notching the men’s 13th goal with two seconds remaining in the contest. The Ephs finished the game victorious, winning 13-9.
“The offense really stepped up today, and the defense followed,” Head Coach George McCormack said. “Even when Middlebury started to make a comeback, we hung in there. I’m proud of the way we played. The guys are looking forward to being a part of championship weekend, and spending at least another week together.”
This win was particularly sweet for the Ephs as they had just bested the Panthers in a tightly contested matchup earlier in the week. Last Wednesday, the Ephs fought a tough battle, with neither team finding a rhythm and possession constantly switching through the first three quarters. The first quarter saw goals by Kiesel and Eric Kelley ’14 with Kelley’s goal assisted by Peter Crane ’16, but Middlebury responded to both immediately. The second quarter was dominated mostly by the Panthers. Middlebury went on a three-goal run in the final eight minutes of the first half. However, the Ephs showed their resolve in the third quarter and were able to bridge the deficit, ending the third quarter in a deadlocked 7-7 game.
The fourth quarter began with a loss of possession and a man-down situation for the Ephs, but they skillfully killed off the penalty. Following a goal from Andy Grabowski ’15 with 10:50 remaining, the Ephs stayed strong for the rest of the quarter. After Kiesel scored a goal with less than a minute left in the game, the Ephs could taste the victory. This marked the first time the Ephs had defeated the Panthers since 2007.
The men take on No. 1 seed Tufts this Saturday in the semifinals of the NESCAC tournament. Notably, the Ephs were the only NESCAC team to beat the Jumbos all season, a convincing 15-8 upset on April 1. The men will be looking for the same result this Saturday in Medford, Mass.