Middlebury Suffers Heartbreaking Loss in NESCAC Semifinals

Will Brossman scored a career-high three goals in the game.
Will Brossman scored a career-high three goals in the game.

Middlebury suffered a heartbreaking loss in the NESCAC Semifinals, falling 14-13 at top-seeded and fourth-ranked Tufts (16-1) in overtime. Seventh-seeded Middlebury finishes their season with an 8-9 mark, while the Jumbos will play in the title game on Sunday.

Trailing 1-0, Middlebury scored three-straight goals for a 3-1 advantage at the 9:31 mark of the first quarter. Tyler Forbes got things going with a rip from the left side before Jack Gould scored on a bounce shot. Pierce Fricke netted the third goal of the run, as the long-stick defender tallied from the top of the zone.

Tufts tied the game before another three-goal spurt put the Panthers up 6-3 with 3:46 remaining in the opening frame. Will Brossman scored twice during the run, including an over-the-shoulder shot cutting to the goal after a nice feed from Chase Goree. Ben Connelly and Nick Shanks scored for Tufts to cut the lead to one (6-5), before Jack Sheehan and Goree made it an 8-5 game after 15 minutes of play.

The teams exchanged goals to start the second quarter, before Matt Treiber found a cutting Max Waldbaum as the Jumbos cut the lead to 9-7 with 7:18 left in the first half. Brossman answered with his third of the game, giving the Panthers a 10-7 lead at the break.

The visitors opened the second-half scoring when A.J. Kucinski made a pass from behind to goal to Sheehan, who scored with a hard shot from the left side. Connelly responded for the Jumbos with a perimeter goal, before Goree scored in transition after a caused turnover by Fricke at 9:21.

The pace settled for the next eight minutes with Middlebury extending its lead to 13-8 at the 1:40 mark on a tally from Ryan Feldmann. The goal came with one second left on the shot clock, as Feldmann drove to the left side before jumping and releasing his shot.

Trailing 13-8 heading into the fourth quarter, Tufts' recorded five unanswered goals to tie the game and force overtime. Matt Treiber scored from point-blank range after a pass from Bryce Adam at the 11:13 mark, followed by a low shot from the left side by Danny Murphy that found the back of the net. Nick Shanks made the score 13-11 with 3:43 remaining, scoring from close range on the right side after a save. The Jumbos struck again 27 seconds later when Connelly scored a man-up tally after a quick move on the left side. The hosts later turned the ball over, as Middlebury worked the clock, but turned it over on a shot-clock violation after a shot went wide. Tufts took over with 41 seconds left and forced overtime with just five seconds remaining when Connelly made a quick feed to Murphy, who scored from a tough angle on the left side.

Middlebury had a great chance to win it in overtime, but Tufts goalkeeper Mason Pollack made a big save on a shot from Jack Hoelzer. The game-winner came with five seconds left in overtime as Connelly found Waldbaum, who quickly turned a let a low shot go that found the back of the net.

Brossman led Middlebury with a career-high three goals, while Goree, Forbes and Sheehan each scored twice. Jake Madnick won 19-30 faceoffs and scooped up a game-high 14 groundballs. Tyler Bass finished with a dozen saves in goal.

Connelly, Waldbaum and Shanks each scored three times to pace Tufts. Pollack ended the game with nine saves.

The game was similar to the regular-season contact on April 20 when the Jumbos outscored the Panthers 6-1 in the fourth quarter to pull away with the 23-14 win.