April 6, 2011

Party Likes It's 1989: Amherst Snaps Four-Decade Skid at Hands of Middlebury

from press release

Danny Gold and the Amherst defense held the Middlebury offense in check, helping the Lord Jeffs post the 9-7 victory -- the first for Amherst over Middlebury since 1989.
© Sam Masinter/Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – The 12th-ranked Amherst College men's lacrosse team scored three goals in a span of 1:07 late in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 9-7 upset win over 7th-ranked Middlebury College, marking the first time since 1989 the Lord Jeffs have defeated the Panthers.

Middlebury (5-2, 3-2 NESCAC) entered Wednesday afternoon's game at Gooding Field with a 25-game win streak against Amherst, but the Lord Jeffs (8-1, 4-1) continued to roll by picking up their eighth consecutive victory of the season, moving them into sole possession of third place in the conference standings.

Only 23 seconds after junior co-captain Evan Redwood (Lutherville, MD) scored to tie the game at 7-7, first-year Devin Acton (Sudbury, MA) spun off a defender and ripped a high shot into the top corner, providing the Jeffs with what proved to be the game-winning goal.

Junior Alex Fox (Garden City, NY) seemed unstoppable throughout much the game—tallying three goals and assisting on two others to lead the Jeffs—and closed out the scoring on an unassisted goal with 3:30 remaining in regulation. Classmate Cole Cherney (Chappaqua, NY) added two goals and an assist on the day, while goalie Sam Jakimo (Woodbury, NY) recorded 12 saves to improve to 8-0.

Tim Cahill '12 scored three goals and Mike Giordano '13 added four assists to lead the Panthers. Ryan Deane '11 turned away 10 shots in net for Middlebury, which out-shot the Jeffs by a 31-29 margin.

The Panthers held possession early on, but two Jakimo saves off shots from point-blank range kept Middlebury off the board. Amherst struck first when Fox gained position on a defender and beat Deane with a hard shot from the top of the crease. The Jeffs doubled their lead with 3:49 to play in the opening quarter when Acton fed Cherney, who ripped a low shot between Deane's legs to make it 2-0.

Early in the second quarter Middlebury senior Sam Palmisano beat Jakimo with a shot into the low right corner, cutting the deficit to 2-1. It seemed that Amherst would respond soon after, but shots from both Fox and Acton clanked off the post. Middlebury evened the score at 2-2 with 5:44 to play in the second when Deane made a save and caught the Jeffs off-guard with a long exit pass. After two more quick passes in the Amherst zone, Giordano fed Cahill, who finished the counter-attack with a quick catch-and-release into the back of the net.

First-year Aaron Mathias (Ridgefield, CT) put the Jeffs up 3-2 with a high shot from atop the crease, but the Panthers fought back with their third goal of the day off a quick juke and shot from Andrew Conner to send the teams into halftime knotted at 3-3.

Middlebury's efficient man-up unit supplied the Panthers with their first lead of the game 1:28 into the second half, again off a Giordano-to-Cahill connection. Amherst responded when Fox sent a pass across the goal mouth to Cherney, who reached the head of his stick around the near post and stuffed a shot home, tying the game at 4-4.

With 5:17 to play in the third, Fox again put the Jeffs ahead. After outrunning two Middlebury defenders from the top of the zone, the junior midfielder ripped a hard shot from a tough angle over Deane's left shoulder to send Amherst into the final quarter with a 5-4 lead.

After another Conner goal squared the score at 5-5, Amherst sophomore Ramsey Bates (McLean, VA) made a run from behind the net and snuck a shot from mid-air between the post and Deane's right shoulder. The Panthers again did not back down, as Cahill's third tally of the day and a goal from Alex Englert '11 left the Jeffs trailing 7-6 with 7:54 to play.

After Redwood, Acton and Fox put home consecutive goals to hand the lead back to Amherst at 9-7 with 3:30 to go, the Lord Jeff defense bore down and held on for the remainder of the period. As the final horn sounded, the Amherst bench and student section flooded the field in celebration of the historic victory.

The Jeffs will look to build on the momentum from today's emotional win on Saturday when they travel to Williamstown for another pivotal NESCAC matchup against archrival Williams College. The Panthers will look to rebound on Saturday when they head to Bowdoin. Both games are set to begin at 1 p.m.

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