Middlebury saw its bid for a fourth NESCAC Championship come up short, as Tufts scored with 2:56 remaining to pick up a 1-0 victory in the title game. The championship was the first for the top-seeded and fourth-ranked Jumbos (15-1-2), who receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The sixth-seeded Panthers move to 12-6 on the season.
The game-winning tally developed when Zach Lane was on the right side of the field just outside of the Middlebury box. He sent a low cross across the face of the net and found a charging Brett Rojas right in front. Rojas headed it into the bottom left corner for the game's only goal. The tally was the first allowed by Jeremy Yeager and the Panthers in 412:35.
Middlebury held a 4-2 shots advantage in a slow paced first half. The Panthers owned the first 20 minutes getting some good pressure on a Jumbo defense that has still only allowed one goal all year long. They had three shots before Tufts got their first look on goal 24 minutes in.
In the 27th minute, Middlebury's Peter Davis sent a high ball into the box that Brandon Reid and Tufts' Conor Coleman were both going up for. Jumbo keeper Connor Mieth came out and got his hand above both of their heads to punch it away from danger.
In the dwindling seconds of the first half, Daniel O'Grady sent a hard shot into the box that took a quick hop right in front of Mieth, but he was able to corral it as the buzzer sounded for the end of the half.
In the 58th minute, Kevin Halliday had a good look as his shot was headed for the upper right corner of Middlebury's goal, but Yeager punched it away with a full-stretched diving save to his left.
Middlebury nearly broke the scoreless tie in the 72nd minute O'Grady let one rip from the left side of the field that curled toward the goal. The shot appeared to go in, but it hit the top of the net just over the crossbar.
In the 83rd minute, Gavin Tasker was fouled just left of the box, setting up a free kick for the Jumbos. Halliday's service found the head of Tyler Kulcsar next to the right post, but his header went just wide right.
Yeager made three stops in the game for the Panthers, while Mieth had a save for the Jumbos. Tufts held a 16-8 shots advantage in the game.