The 20th-ranked Middlebury men’s lacrosse fell in two games last week to top-20 foes. The Panthers possessed a 10-9 halftime lead on Tuesday evening, but #8 RIT outscored Middlebury 19-2 during the second half on its way to a 28-12 win inside the Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University. Returning to NESCAC action, the Panthers suffered a 20-11 loss on the road to 12th-ranked Amherst on Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium.
In Tuesday’s opening quarter, RIT jumped out to a 3-1 lead over the first five minutes of play. The Panthers responded with six-straight goals over a span of 7:33, including two scores each from junior Henry Riehl (Baltimore, Md.), sophomore Jack Gould (Prides Crossing, Mass.) and rookie A.J. Kucinski (Cohasset, Mass.), for a 7-3 lead. Gould’s tally at the 6:03 mark came on a shot from nearly 60 yards away. The Tigers scored on their final possession of the first quarter, cutting the Middlebury lead to 7-4.
The second quarter saw RIT record four of the first five goals, including three from Ryan Lee, to tie the contest at 8-8 with just over six minutes left before halftime. Sandwiched in the middle of that spurt was senior Joey Zelkowitz’s (Westport, Conn.) sixth goal of the season for the Panthers. A pair of tallies from Gould over the final 4:15 of the second stanza, along with Lee's fourth of the quarter for the Tigers, gave Middlebury a 10-9 halftime advantage.
Following the halftime break, the Tigers grabbed a one-goal edge at 11-10 behind goals from Brendan McDonald and Chad Levick. Middlebury answered with a man-up tally from senior Jake Schneider (New York, N.Y.) for his 14th goal of the season at the 10:33 mark. Junior Nick Peterson’s (Fairfax Station, Va.) first goal of the year just 17 seconds later gave the Panthers their final lead of the night, 12-11. The Tigers recorded the final 17 goals of the game, making it a 28-12 final.
Riehl led the Panthers with three goals and three assists, Gould chipped in with a five-point effort (4-1-5), while Kucinski added two goals and an assist. Junior John Jackson (Hood River, Ore.) scooped up a team-best eight ground balls and won 19-33 face-off attempts, while Riehl and Peterson each had four ground balls.
Levick paced the Tigers with seven goals and three assists, Lee chipped in with seven scores and a pair of assists, while McDonald tacked on five goals and an assist. Nate Farrell won 20-37 face-off attempts and picked up a game-high 13 ground balls, while Patrick Hannigan added six.
In goal for Middlebury, senior Will Ernst (San Francisco, Calif.) played the opening half with seven saves, while rookie Will Perry (Roanoke, Va.) had seven stops in 19:11 of action. Sophomore Charles Midgley (Scarborough, N.Y.) logged the final 10:49 in front of the Panther goal. Nick Nesbitt played the opening quarter for RIT, while Jon Berg earned the win with 10 saves in 36:10 of play. Walker Hare had two saves in 5:51 of play, while Patrick Jackson didn't record a statistic in the final 2:59.
After Middlebury struck first on Riehl’s goal Saturday at the 12:56 mark with an assist from Schneider, Amherst answered with six-consecutive goals to give the Purple & White a 6-1 advantage less than halfway through the first quarter. Brett Inglesby scored on a feed from Max Keeley to get the run started, before Jack Norton fired in the first of his string of tallies on a feed from Matt Killian. Dylan Finazzo won back-to-back faceoffs and aided Trenton Shore in finding the back of the net as the duo struck twice to give the hosts a 4-1 lead. Brogan Mahon scored with help from Jackson Herrick before Norton scored his second marker at the 8:57 mark to make it 6-1. Gould broke the rally for the Panthers with an unassisted goal at the 6:12 mark, but Ford and Norton closed out the quarter with back-to-back scoring strikes to make it 8-2 after 15 minutes of play.
In the second quarter, Middlebury quickly closed the gap with consecutive unassisted scores by Riehl, and one from senior John Simms (Hunt Valley, Md.) with 9:20 to play in the first half, cutting the Panthers’ deficit to 8-5. The Purple & White extended their lead back to five as Norton scored with help from Ford, before Jimmy McAfee found the back of the net with an unassisted goal to set the halftime score at 10-5.
Amherst pushed its lead to 12-5 early in the third quarter when Killian scored on a pass from Colin Minicus, before Jamie Smith went coast-to-coast and fired in an impressive shot to give the hosts a seven-goal cushion. Kucinski answered for Middlebury at the 8:53 mark and then assisted a Schneider goal 21 seconds later, making it 12-7. Amherst responded with two more strikes when Norton and Minicus found the nylon with Shore aiding Minicus score, making it 14-7 with 4:23 to play in the stanza. The Panthers scored the final goal in the quarter as Riehl collected his fourth tally of the contest, as Amherst led 14-8.
Amherst pulled away early in the fourth frame scoring six straight in a span of 6:15. Minicus, Killian, and Herrick each scored a goal, while Norton provided two markers, including one on the extra-man opportunity, making the score 20-8. Middlebury closed out the contest with three goals as junior Parker Lawlor (Carlsbad, Calif.) scored once and Riehl netted his fifth and sixth of the contest, making it a 20-11 final.
Finazzo was stellar at the faceoff X once again, collecting 16 ground balls and going 25-32 in the draw, while Sam Chen, Killian, Shore, McAfee, and Ford picked up four ground balls each. Smith and Chen each caused a pair of Middlebury turnovers, while Cody Tranbarger preserved the win making 18 saves.
Ernst made 12 stops in goal for Middlebury, while also leading the team in ground balls with seven. Riehl added four scoops, while Zelkowitz and sophomore Matthew O’Neal (Duxbury, Mass.) picked up three ground balls each.
• Men’s lacrosse record: 3-6
• Up Next: 4/5 vs. Hamilton – 5:00 p.m., 4/8 at Bates – 1:00 p.m.