Panther men bounce back to crush Conn College, 12-4

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College men’s lacrosse bounced back from its only loss of the year to post a solid, 12-4 victory on Saturday over visiting Connecticut College.
The Panthers (3-1 overall, 2-1 NESCAC), who had lost in overtime at Wesleyan the week before, started slowly and trailed in the second quarter, 2-1. But then they scored the final four goals of the first half and the first two in the second half to take charge against the Camels (2-4 overall, 0-3 NESCAC).
“We came out a little slow… as they had possession for most of the first quarter,” said Middlebury coach Dave Campbell. “I thought our guys settled down about halfway through the second, when we were able to get a few transition goals. In the second half we picked up right where we left off and dictated the tempo.”
Middlebury’s Tim Cahill scored at 13:31 of the first quarter, and the Panthers took a 1-0 lead into the second. The Camels’ Eric Doran then had a hand in the next two goals, scoring the equalizer at 10:59 and assisting Stephen Eicher less than a minute later for the 2-1 advantage.
The Panthers answered about four minutes later on a goal by Erich Pfeffer at 6:02 that triggered their decisive six-goal run. Andrew Conner scored on a man-up shot for the go-ahead tally, and Mike Giordano collected a feed from David Hild in transition for a 4-2 lead at 1:03 mark. Seventeen seconds later, Alex Giammarco put a tough angle shot by Connecticut goalie John Lenehan for a 5-2 Middlebury lead at the break.
Early in the third quarter, Conner continued the assault with a strong drive to the crease at 14:04. At 12:22, Pfeffer’s found the net from 10 yards away to make it 7-2.
The Camels answered with a pair of goals, one a spinning post-up move by Tyler Corcoran at 9:56 that cut the Panther lead to 7-4.
Middlebury responded with a 4-0 run to close the quarter with an 11-4 lead. Giordano, Conner and Giammarco each scored before Hild added man-up tally with 54 seconds left in the quarter. Quinn Cronan’s goal with 3:24 in the fourth capped the scoring.
The teams won 10 faceoffs apiece, as Middlebury’s Peter Jennings and Conn. College’s Chuck Czerkawski each won eight match-ups. Middlebury held a 27-23 ground-ball advantage, while the Panthers were two-for-two on man-up attempts.
Conner sparked Middlebury with a hat trick, while Giordano added two tallies and one assist. Pfeffer and Giammarco each notched a pair of goals, while Hild chipped in with a goal and a helper.
Ryan Deane earned the win in net for Middlebury, making seven saves over 53:22, and teammate Charles Ward relieved Deane for 6:38 and made one save. The Camels’ Lenehan made 12 saves and collected a game-high eight ground balls.
Campbell said he was especially happy on Saturday with the play of his defenders and goalies.
“Our starting defense played particularly well, with senior Chris Mejia stepping up in his first start of the year. John Duvnjak and Henry Clark also did a terrific job at close defense. We also were fortunate to have some outstanding goaltending,” he said.
Overall in the early going, Campbell said his defense seems to be finding its groove more quickly than the attack.
“Going forward, I think we’re starting to establish an identity at the defensive end, but have a ways to go on offense,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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