Men’s lax just misses league title

LEWISTON, Maine — The Middlebury College men’s lacrosse team fell one goal and one upset short of a NESCAC championship and an NCAA Division III berth on Sunday, when second-seeded Wesleyan rallied to defeat the Panthers, 9-8, in the NESCAC final on the campus of Bates College.
On Saturday, Middlebury (9-9) had knocked off undefeated top seed Bates, the nation’s top-ranked team, 14-13, to reach the final, a result that followed their one-goal upset of host No. 13 Amherst, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, the week before.
On Sunday, the Panthers took a 6-2 lead into halftime when Wes Quinzani scored a transition goal in the final seconds after one of goalie Charles Midgley’s 13 saves. A.J. Kucinski, Danny Jacobs (from Kucinski) Henry Riehl, Matthew O’Neal and Nick Peterson also scored as the Panthers built their four-goal lead, while Taylor Ghesquiere and Christian Barker answered for the 17-1 Cardinals.
 Wesleyan cut the lead to 8-6 after three periods. Clayton Read and Danny Jacobs, both assisted by Kucinski, who racked up four assists, scored for the Panthers. Jacobs’ goal came with the Panthers a man up; they converted only one of five man-up chances, while the Cardinals went five-for-seven, a crucial advantage.
Two of the Cardinals’ four goals in the third came with a Panther serving a penalty, and Ghesquiere scored twice. A Harry Stanton goal with 3:29 left in the frame made it a two-goal game.
The Cardinals tied the game with two more man-up goals, with Christian Barker and Carter Hawthorne scoring and assisting each other. just over four minutes into the final frame. Stanton scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 4:58 remaining with an underhanded shot.
Middlebury had a quality chance to force overtime in the final seconds Wesleyan goalie Ted Bergman (12 saves) made a diving stop on a Riehl bid to preserve the win.
Panther Jake Madnick collected a game-high six ground balls and went 10 for 18 on faceoffs. Midgley finished with 13 saves and completed the tournament with 56 in three games, four short of the tournament record of 60. Wesleyan held edges of 40-36 in shots and 35-28 edge in ground balls.  
In Saturday’s 14-13 win over Bates, the teams were tied at the half, 7-7. The Panthers led by two at one point in the third quarter, but settled for an 11-10 lead after three when Parker Lawlor scored in the final minute.
In the fourth quarter, Quinzani gave Middlebury a 12-10 advantage 1:10 into the period, but the Bobcats crept back to within a goal on a marker by Matt Chlastawa. The guests reclaimed a two-goal lead 39 seconds later on a tally by O’Neal, only to have Chlastawa bring his team back to within 13-12. 
Middlebury jumped back in front by two goals when J.P. Miller rifled a shot home from 15 yards out after taking a feed from Chase Goree with 2:30 to go. Chlastawa closed the margin to one goal with 1:19 remaining, but the Panther defense prevented the Bobcats from getting off a shot in the final possession to seal the win.
Midgley had a big game with 19 saves. Madnick played a key role, winning 22 or 29 faceoffs and scooping a game-high 13 ground balls. Kucinski and Miller each scored three times, while Goree and Riehl each scored twice and assisted a goal, and Jacobs assisted three scores.
Chlastawa paced the Bobcats with four goals and two assists, while Charlie Fay tallied four times and goalie Rob Strain made 14 saves. Bates held advantages of 59-41 in shots and 49-44 in ground balls, but Middlebury won 23 of 31 face-offs in a game without a penalty.

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