On the Ball: Men's lax wins; RPI next

On the Ball: Men’s lax wins; RPI nextAs expected, the Middlebury College men’s lacrosse team held serve on Wednesday in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, defeating visiting Goucher, 10-6. Before getting to details of that game, let’s look ahead: The 12-5 Panthers will visit 14-2 Rensselaer (to avoid typos henceforth referred to as RPI) on Saturday for a second-round match-up. The game is a rematch of an April 20 contest, also played in beautiful downtown Troy, N.Y., won by the Panthers, 9-6.And a look at the stats shows that victory wasn’t a fluke. The Panthers dominated the second half, outscoring the Engineers, 7-3, in the final 30 minutes; won 13 of 19 faceoffs; picked up 44 of 78 ground balls; launched more shots at goal, 34-32; and put more shots on goal, 20-18.Oh, and the Panthers have yet to lose to a non-NESCAC foe. Anything can happen, but they can’t have asked for a better opportunity in the tournament this year. If they do prevail at RPI, on Wednesday they will face the winner of another Saturday game between NESCAC champ Tufts (16-1), which edged the Panthers in the league final, and Endicott (14-7).Against Goucher (14-4) on Wednesday, the Panthers pulled away from a 4-4 halftime tie to win going away. In the first half, the Panthers got two goals from David Hild, one by Jack Masur, and one fro Tim Cahill set up by Masur.The Panthers scored the first four goals of the second half, three in the third quarter and one at 12:48 of the fourth. In the third, Andrew Connor scored from Pete Smith, Peter Jennings won the faceoff and raced in for the score, and Bart Witmer drove to the goal at 3:45.Chris Teves made a spin move out front at 12:48 of the fourth to make it 8-4. Goucher cut the lead back to two, but Hild’s power move at 4:31 restored a three-goal lead, and Smith set up Cahill for an insurance goal at 2:22. Panther goalie Ryan Deane and Goucher’s Chris Stricklin each made 10 saves. Middlebury out-shot Goucher, 44-28, and won 14 of 19 faceoffs, with Brian Foster winning eight out of nine.Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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