Panther Second-Half Comeback Falls Just Short at No. 8 Williams

Frank Cosolito had three goals in Wednesday's game at Williams.
Frank Cosolito had three goals in Wednesday's game at Williams.

Middlebury outscored No. 8 Williams 7-2 over the final two quarters, falling by a 14-12 score on Wednesday to the Ephs (13-2, 8-2) in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Panthers (7-8, 4-6) earned the seventh seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament and will hit the road on Saturday for a quarterfinal game at second-seeded Wesleyan.

Trailing 1-0, Tyler Forbes worked his way from behind the goal, ripping a shot into the upper-right corner to knot the game at 1-1 with 10:33 remaining. The Ephs tallied the next seven goals, including three from Cory Lund, for a 7-1 advantage after one quarter.

The Panthers moved to within 7-2 at the 12:37 mark of the second quarter, as Chase Goree scored on a quick-stick shot from seven yards out. Williams tallied the next four goals over a span of 5:50, including three more by Lund, for an 11-2 advantage with 4:21 remaining. Middlebury responded with three-straight goals, as Jack Hoelzer scored a pair, before Frank Cosolito made 11-5 when he ripped a shot from the right side with 49 seconds left before halftime. The Ephs ended the stanza when Kevin Stump scored on a bouncing shot from eight yards out for a 12-5 halftime edge.

Out of the break, A.J. Kucinski recorded a man-up goal, sprinting from behind the net from the left at 10:33. Nearly two minutes later, John Beatty redirected a pass from the right by Goree on the doorstep. Goals from Goree and Cosolito pulled Middlebury to within 12-9, before a bouncing shot by Lund moved the Ephs back ahead by four. The Panthers tallied with three seconds left in the quarter when Alderik van der Heyde dodged a defender just in front of the crease for a 13-10 deficit.

In the fourth, Middlebury cut the deficit to a pair on a bouncing shot from Jack Gould at the 9:12 mark, before Cosolito muscled his way down the right side with 7:47 left for a 13-12 score. A sprawling save at 4:27 by goalie Tyler Bass on a hard, low shot kept the Panthers within a goal, but the Ephs went ahead 14-12 on a quick-stick goal with 2:02 left and hung on for the victory.

Cosolito led Middlebury with three goals, Goree had two scores and an assist, while Hoelzer had a pair of tallies. Jake Madnick won 18-28 faceoffs and picked up 13 ground balls, while Laurence Jackson and Clay Hunt each had two caused turnovers. Ben Snow scooped up four ground balls. Bass finished with 11 saves in front of the Panther net.

Lund's seven goals paced Williams, while Jake Haase tallied a game-best five assists to go along with two goals for seven points. Cameron Brown had three caused turnovers and had four ground balls. Harry Gahagan notched 12 saves for the Ephs to earn the win.

Middlebury held advantages in shots (49-33), including 35-9 in the final two quarters, as well as ground balls (41-36), while securing 18-29 faceoffs.