Big First Half Propels Panthers Past Ephs in Regular-Season Finale

Jake Madnick won 23-33 faceoffs and picked up a career-high 15 ground balls in Wednesday's win.
Jake Madnick won 23-33 faceoffs and picked up a career-high 15 ground balls in Wednesday's win.

Tied at 2-2 nearly six minutes into the contest, Middlebury outscored Williams by a 10-2 count over the remainder of Wednesday's opening half en route to a 20-13 victory over the Ephs (8-7, 6-4) in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Panthers (9-6, 5-5) earned the sixth seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament and will hit the road on Saturday for a quarterfinal game at third-seeded Tufts.

The Panthers jumped out to a quick two-goal lead on a tally by A.J. Kucinski with 12:51 left and Frank Cosolito just 48 seconds later. Williams knotted the score behind goals from Brendan Hoffman and Cory Lund at the 9:07 mark. Middlebury recorded the final five goals of the quarter, including a pair from Kucinski, for a 7-2 advantage.

Williams started the second stanza with goals from Kevin Stump and James McFarland sandwiched around an unassisted tally from Middlebury's Danny Jacobs for an 8-4 score with 8:28 left before the half. The hosts rattled off the final four scores of the quarter, including two more from Jacobs, for a 12-4 edge at the halftime break.

Out of the intermission, a man-up goal from Lund and a tally in transition by Stump cut the Panther advantage to six (12-6) with a little more than 10 minutes remaining. Middlebury posted the ensuing three scores over a span of nearly three minutes, including two man-down goals from Henry Riehl, for a 15-6 lead. Tallies by Matthew Seligson and McFarland brought the visitors back to within seven with 3:31 left, but a pair of goals by Kucinski around a Michael McCormack score pushed the Panther advantage back to 10 (18-8) headed to the final quarter.

Ryan Gibbs tallied the first score for the Ephs with 11:42 remaining, but goals by Middlebury's Luke Peterson and Harry Giarrusso increased the host lead to its largest of the contest at 11 (20-9). Williams posted the final four goals of the game for the 20-13 score.

Riehl led Middlebury with four goals and three assists, Kucinski added five scores and a helper, while Jacobs tacked on six points with four tallies and a pair of assists. Jake Madnick won 23-33 faceoffs and picked up a career-high 15 ground balls, while Eric Rogers had three caused turnovers and a pair of rollers. Pierce Fricke also scooped up three ground balls. Charles Midgley made nine saves and allowed eight goals in 45:00 of action, while Tyler Bass recorded five saves with five goals allowed in the final quarter.

Lund's three goals and two assists paced Williams, while McFarland (2-1-3), Stump (2-1-3) and John Hincks (1-2-3) each finished with three points. Alex Kitt led the Ephs with 10 ground balls, while Angus O'Rourke had three. George Peele (8-6) made nine saves in goal for the visitors during the first three quarters, while Harry Gahagan notched two stops in the final stanza.

Middlebury held advantages in shots (51-42) and ground balls (43-34), while securing 23-35 faceoffs in the victory.