Wesleyan vs. Middlebury
May 6, 2007
The Game Story:
Middlebury won its seventh consecutive NESCAC men’s lacrosse championship on Sunday with an 11-6 victory over Wesleyan at Tufts University’s Bello Field.

The Panthers, who earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, have not lost a game in the NESCAC tournament during the seven-year history of the event. Skyler Hopkins scored five goals today as the Panthers improved to 15-0 overall in NESCAC tournament games since 2001. Wesleyan (16-2), which will await a possible at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament, got two goals from Grayson Connors.

Middlebury took a different route to the title this year. They entered the tournament as the sixth-seed after a 4-5 conference record during the regular season. They had been the tournament’s #1 seed in the previous six seasons. The 2007 Panthers defeated Trinity 16-4 in the first round, #7 Tufts 8-7 in the semifinals and #4 Wesleyan for the championship.

Middlebury jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter, including the first of two goals by Nick Bastis. Wesleyan tied the game at 3-3 with two quick goals in the middle of the second period, by Connors at 8:28 and by Jeff Strittmatter 13 seconds later. When Connors scored a man-up goal with two minutes to play in the half, the Cardinals took their first lead of the game at 4-3. However, Hopkins scored twice for Middlebury in the final 31 seconds, including a goal with just two seconds remaining after a costly Wesleyan turnover, and they led 5-4.

Into the third quarter, the Panthers added two goals to their lead. They extended their run to three goals at 7:45 of the fourth quarter for an 8-4 advantage. Pete Smith had two assists during the run. Wesleyan’s Kwasi Ansu got one for Wesleyan at 5:54, but the Panthers scored the next two and had the game well under control at 10-5 with 3:19 on the clock.

The Panthers flung 52 shots towards Cardinals keeper Charlie Congleton, who stopped 14. Alex Palmisano also finished with 14 stops in the Middlebury cage, facing 31 Wesleyan shots. Middlebury also won the ground balls battle 40-29, won 13 of the 21 face offs and scored two man-up goals.

Smith finished with three assists overall, while Mike Stone joined Bastis with two goals for Middlebury.