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Men’s lax wins fifth straight, now ranked

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College men’s lacrosse team won two recent home games to improve to 5-1, 2-1 in NESCAC play. The Panthers entered this week’s NCAA Division III rankings at No. 17 and have won five straight after an opening loss to No. 1 Tufts. The Panthers host Bowdoin at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
On Saturday, the Panthers outlasted visiting Wesleyan, 11-9, as John Jackson won 19 out of 24 faceoffs and scooped 13 groundballs. The Panthers built several four-goal leads over the Cardinals (2-3, 2-1 NESCAC) in the second half before the Cardinals scored twice in the final minute.  
The Panthers led, 5-2, at the half, and took their first four-goal lead at 6-2 on a David Murray goal to open the second half. The Cardinals cut their deficit to 6-4 entering the fourth, Kyle Soroka added a man-up goal with eight seconds left in the quarter, and Jackson won the fourth-period faceoff and set up Jack Rautiola, who made it 8-4.
Rautiola scored two more times in the quarter as the Panthers prevailed. Joel Blockowicz finished with two goals and an assist and Murray and Jack Cleary added a goal and an assist apiece. Jon Broome and Tim Giarrusso also tallied for Middlebury.
Panther goalie Will Ernst made nine saves, while Cardinal starter Justin Schick allowed 10 goals and stopped a dozen shots before a backup allowed the final Middlebury score.
On Tuesday, the Panthers outscored visiting No. 8 Endicott, 4-1, down the stretch to rally for an 11-10 victory. The Gulls dropped to 5-2.
The Gulls scored six straight goals to take a 6-2 lead at 8:14 of the second quarter, but the Panthers got goals from Blockowicz, Cleary, Joseph Zelkowitz and Giarrusso to tie the game at 6-6 before a late Gull goal just before the half made it 7-6.
Giarrusso knotted the game again to open the second half, but two Endicott scores made it 9-7 at 8:02 of the third. The Panthers then closed the game on the 4-1 run over the final 19 minutes. 
 Middlebury tied the game in the final minute of the fourth, with Broome setting up Giarrusso before finding the net himself.
 Sean Carroll’s second goal of the game made it 10-9, Middlebury, at 11:56, but Gull Harrison Cotter’s third goal of the game at 7:07 tied the game again. With four minutes to go, Ernst made a key save, and about 30 seconds later Rautiola took a Blockowicz feed and found the top right corner for the game-winner. Ernst then made two of his nine saves in the final minute to preserve the win.
Middlebury led in shots, 44-35; ground balls, 37-26; and faceoffs, 15-10, with Jackson winning 15 of 23. Gull goalie Cameron Bell stopped 15 shots.

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