May 3, 2009

Wesleyan's World: Cardinals Win NESCAC

from press releases

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -   Wesleyan won its first NESCAC men's lacrosse championship, earning a 14-10 win over Tufts in a game played at Middlebury College's Alumni Stadium. The Cardinals (14-3), making their fourth NCAA appearance in five years, receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Jumbos (13-4) will hope for an at-large bid when the pairings are announced late Sunday night.

Wesleyan wasted little time as Matt Ward won the opening face-off and drove down the field and fed Jon Killeen for a score seven seconds into the game. The Cardinals took a 2-0 advantage at 9:11 as Jason Ben-Eliyahu ripped one into the back of the net from 10 yards away. Killeen and Conor Malangone scored for Wesleyan later in the first to make it a 4-0 lead. The teams exchanged the next four goals before Tufts' Doug DiSesa slipped one past Wesleyan netminder Mike Borrero at :04, cutting the Cardinals lead to 6-3 after one quarter of play.

The lead grew to 8-3 in the second quarter with a pair of Cardinal goals. Russ Follansbee circled from behind the net to score the first, before feeding Dan Latzman in transition for the second tally. Tufts took advantage of a failure to advance, as Clem McNally put home a blast at the 9:50 mark. Follansbee made a quick-stick pass to Ben-Eliyahu as Wesleyan answered, before D.J. Hessler scored on the short side to make it a 9-5 game at the half.

The third quarter was even with each team scoring four goals, leaving Wesleyan with a 13-9 lead. Adam Kirk scored for the Cardinals on a rebound to open the third, as Ryan Molloy answered with a nice feed from McNally. Lonnie Blumenthal and Kirk gave the Cardinals a 12-6 lead, with Molloy and Hessler answering for the Jumbos, leaving them a 12-8 deficit at the 10:05 mark. Wesleyan took advantage of a failed clear and increased its lead to 13-8 on a tally from Follansbee. Tufts closed the quarter with a low bounce shot from Matt Witko with seven seconds left to make it a 13-9 game.

Tufts came within three at 13-10 with 12:10 left in the fourth as Hessler hit a cutting Kevin Williams for the tally. Wesleyan reestablished their four-goal cushion at 4:29 with a set-up by Killeen to a cutting Blumenthal for a 14-10 lead. In the final minutes both teams played at a frantic pace, but Borrero's save on a shot by Tufts' Mike Droesch was the last good look the Jumbos had on net.

Follansbee led all scorers with three goals and three assists, while Blumenthal added a hat-trick for Wesleyan. Three other Cardinals, Kirk, Killeen and Ben-Eliyahu each added a pair of goals. Hessler collected five points for Tufts, scoring two goals and setting up three more, while McNally added two goals and two assists. Borrero earned the win in net for Wesleyan stopping 10 shots, while Jumbo goalie Matt Harrigan made nine saves in defeat.

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