Middlebury vs. Tufts
May 19, 2010
The Game Story:
The Middlebury men's lacrosse team saw its season come to an end with an 11-9 loss at Tufts in an NCAA Quarterfinal match-up. The Panthers finish their season at 13-6, while Tufts improves to 18-1 and visits Cortland Sunday in a semifinal match-up. Middlebury was making its 13th consecutive and 14th overall NCAA Tournament appearance, as their record falls to 31-11 in NCAA play.

Tufts outscored Middlebury 7-2 overall during the final 34:16 of play. During that stretch, D.J. Hessler scored two goals with an assist, while Ryan Molloy added a goal and two assists. That helped the Jumbos overcome a 7-4 advantage that the Panthers held with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter. The win was the third for Tufts over Middlebury this season, including a victory in the NESCAC title game.

Middlebury scored the game's first goal by Andrew Conner, but a goal and an assist from Hessler led a three-goal spurt by Tufts that put the hosts up 3-1 at 4:51 of the first quarter. Middlebury scored twice before the period ended, including a tally by Erich Pfeffer that tied the score at 3-3 with 2:36 remaining.

The Panthers maintained the momentum into the second quarter, netting four of the first five goals. Senior co-captain Pete Smith assisted two of the scores, including one by Chris Teves that gave Middlebury its 7-4 lead. The Jumbos managed to chop the margin to 7-6 heading into halftime, with Sean Kirwan and Matt Witko scoring goals.

The teams traded goals in the third quarter, with Panther Tim Cahill scoring with just eight seconds remaining in the period to give the visitors an 8-7 advantage heading into the final quarter. However, Tufts scored the next four goals to surge to an 11-8 lead with 6:05 left in regulation. Hessler had a goal and an assist during the decisive run. Middlebury added another goal by Pfeffer at 4:32, but that is as close as they would get.

Hessler led Tufts with three goals and two assists, setting a new school record for assists (48) in the process. Witko and Kirwan both tallied twice for the Jumbos. Nick Rhoads was dominant in the face-off circle for Tufts, winning 18 of 24 attempts. Tufts did not fail on any of its 19 clear attempts and was led defensively by four ground balls apiece from senior Darius Bittle-Dockery and junior Alec Bialosky. The Jumbos won the ground-ball battle overall 39-28.

Junior David Hild joined Cahill, Pfeffer, and Conners with two goals each for Middlebury, while Smith finished with three helpers. Junior Ryan Deane was excellent in goal with 15 saves, including nine in the second half. Sophomore Matt Rayner also played well defensively with six ground balls.