Middlebury saw its comeback bid at ninth-ranked Wesleyan come up just short, as the Cardinals (4-1, 3-0) scored the game's final two goals for a 13-10 NESCAC victory in Connecticut. The Panthers trailed by four goals and closed to margin to one (11-10) in the fourth quarter, but the hosts recorded the final two scores to earn the win. Middlebury (2-2, 1-2), who has already played three games against ranked opponents this season, is back in action Tuesday, hosting Plattsburgh State at 4:00 p.m.
The teams alternated goals throughout the first quarter with each team getting on the scoreboard three times. Wesleyan's Ronan Jacoby opened the scoring 2:56 into the contest, while A.J. Kucinski answered with a man-up tally just 33 seconds later for the guests. After the Cardinals led 2-1, the Panthers again had a quick counter with Michael McCormack answering 26 seconds later. The Cardinals led 3-2 in the final seconds, but Danny Jacobs tied the game 3-3 with four seconds showing on the clock.
The hosts had a strong second quarter, scoring five of the six goals. Henry Riehl tied the game at 4-4 for Middlebury, before Wesleyan finished out the opening half with four-straight goals and an 8-4 advantage.
In the third quarter, the Panthers closed the difference to two goals. McCormack tallied unassisted with less than a minute expired, while Riehl set up Wes Quinzani just over a minute later to close the gap to 8-6. After goals by Jacoby and Christian Barker, the visitors reeled off three-straight tallies to close out the period trailing by a goal. Riehl netted back-to-back goals to make the difference two scores, while Chase Goree made a nice spin move at the top of the crease for a marker with 41 seconds showing on the clock.
In the final frame, Taylor Ghesquiere extended Wesleyan's lead back to two goals at 11-9 with 11:23 on clock. Middlebury's Frank Cosolito got the score back four minutes later with a rocket from 15 yards out at the top of the box, but Ghesquiere and Harry Stanton each scored in the final four minutes, as the hosts made the final difference 13-10.
Riehl led the Panthers with three goals and an assist, while McCormack chipped in with two goals and two helpers. Kucinski and Jacobs each finished with a goal and an assist. Jake Madnick had a team-high five ground balls and went 15-27 on faceoffs, while Eric Rogers scooped up four ground balls. Charles Midgley made 12 saves in goal.
Ghesquiere and Stanton both finished with four goals for the Cardinals, while Jacoby scored three times and assisted on two others. Carter Hawthone dished out five assists. Zach Zavlick went 9-14 on face offs and collected six ground balls and in goal, Otto Bohan made 11 stops.
Wesleyan held a 40-36 advantage in shots posted a 30-26 edge in ground balls. Middlebury scored on its only man-up situation and muted both Cardinal opportunities.