Panther men pull off upset, advance to NESCAC semi in lacrosse

AMHERST, Mass. — The Middlebury College men’s lacrosse team kept its season alive this past Saturday by upsetting No. 3 seed Amherst on the road, 12-11, in a NESCAC quarterfinal.

The Panthers, the No. 6 seed, improved to 7-8 and will take on top-seeded and undefeated host Bates at noon on Saturday in a NESCAC semifinal. No. 2 Wesleyan and No. 5 Bates will meet afterward, and the winners will meet on Sunday at noon for the league playoff title and the automatic NESCAC bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

This past Saturday against Amherst (12-4) — which had won five straight, had been ranked No. 11, and had defeated Middlebury on April 11, 20-11 — Middlebury goalie Charles Midgley made a career-high 24 saves to backbone the upset. On Monday he was named NESCAC player of the week.

The game was close throughout the first half. Middlebury’s Chase Goree knotted the score with 59 seconds left, but Evan Wolf gave the Mammoths a 5-4 lead at the break by scoring with one second on the clock.

The Mammoths opened the second half with two early goals, but the Panthers scored three straight to knot the score after three periods. Danny Jacobs started the run with a man-up tally, Parker Lawler added a mid-period marker, and A.J. Kucinski added a goal late in the quarter to make it 7-7.

Henry Riehl had a big fourth quarter for Middlebury, scoring three times and setting up a Kucinski goal that made it 11-10. After Chris Albanese scored in transition to make it 11-11 at 3:42, Amherst won the faceoff, but the Panther defense forced a turnover. Jacobs took advantage by whipping a shot home from 12 yards out with 1:42 remaining, and Midgley protected the lead with three late saves.

Jacobs led all players with four goals and added an assist, while Riehl had three goals and one helper. Riehl’s three goals gave him 50 for the season. Kucinski chipped in two goals and an assist. Jack DeFrino led the Panthers with five ground balls.

Mammoth goalie Cory Tranbarger made 12 saves. The Mammoths held advantages of 49-43 in shots and 42-28 in ground balls. Middlebury went three for three on man-up opportunities, while Amherst scored on its only attempt. The Panthers are now 7-0 against Amherst in NESCAC tournament play. 

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