May 2, 2009

Pool C Surprise: Wesleyan Ousts Middlebury

from press releases

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -   Dan Latzman scored driving to the goal from eight yards out just 36 seconds into overtime, giving Wesleyan a 15-14 win over Middlebury in a NESCAC semifinal game played in Vermont. The Cardinals will make their fifth NESCAC Championship game appearance when they take on the winner of the Bowdoin/Tufts game at noon on Sunday.

The Panthers fall to 16-2 all-time in NESCAC Tournament play and fall in the NESCAC semifinals for the second straight season. Middlebury is expected to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the pairings are announced Sunday night.

Middlebury took a 1-0 lead 3:20 into the first quarter as Mike Stone fed Tom Petty in transition, for his 26th of the season. Wesleyan almost tied the game minutes later, as a deflected shot rolled towards the goal line when Middlebury netminder Pete Britt was able to cover it for the save.

The Panthers took a 2-0 lead at 8:56 with a Mike Stone sidearm shot. Middlebury took advantage of a man-up opportunity later in the quarter, as David Hild found the back of the net with a feed from Skyler Hopkins to make it a 3-0 game. The Panthers closed the first quarter as Stone found Hild for his second of the game with just 16 seconds remaining.

Wesleyan got on the board 38 seconds into the second quarter as Russ Follansbee came from behind the net to score his 34th of the year. Middlebury answered after a near failed clear at 12:29, as Matt Ferrer scored with a helper credited to Petty. The Cardinals scored a transition goal as Lonny Blumenthal made a quick feed to Jon Killeen to make it a 5-2 game. Stone answered for the Panthers, netting his 50th of the season rolling to his right at the 8:02 mark.

Middlebury increased its lead a Stone was double-teamed before making a quick pass down low to Hild for his third of the game. Wesleyan cut the lead to 7-3 as Blumenthal scored through the five-hole falling to the ground at the 6:09 mark. Petty closed the first half scoring as he netted his second of the game with a bounce shot, as the Panthers took an 8-3 advantage into the intermission. Middlebury's eight first half goals were one more then they scored in an 8-7 loss at Wesleyan on March 14th.

Wesleyan came out charging in the second half, outscoring the Panthers 6-2 in the third quarter to cut the Middlebury lead to 10-9 after tying the game at 9-9. Kwasi Ansu opened the scoring, putting home his own rebound at the 12:47 mark. Skyler Hopkins answered for the Panthers with some work on the outside to give the team a 9-4 lead with 10:59 remaining. The Cardinals took over the quarter from there, netting five goals over the next 7:54 to tie the game at 9-9.

Follansbee opened the 5-0 run, with an assist to Killeen just seven seconds later following a faceoff. Adam Kirk made it a 9-7 game at 5:12, while Conor Malangone brought the Cardinals within one on a rebound goal with 4:10 left in the quarter. Follansbee scored his third of the quarter and fourth of the game to bring the Cardinals all the way back. With time running out in the third, Hopkins, as he fell to the ground, closed the scoring with :01 remaining giving Middlebury a 10-9 lead.

Wesleyan tied the game once again 1:49 into the fourth quarter, with a tally from Blumenthal cutting to the goal. Hopkins made a quick cross-crease pass to Tim Cahill, as the Panthers regained the lead at 11-10. The lead grew to a pair as Matt Ferrer converted a quick-stick feed from Pete Smith for the Panthers third man-up goal of the day. Wesleyan came within one at the 9:42 as Follansbee faked high and shot low after a nice transition feed from Ansu.

The Cardinals tied the game at a dozen 54 seconds later, when Blumenthal scored his third of the day from 10 yards out. The Panthers went back on top with 3:04 remaining, as Hild took a feed from Stone and quickly stepped to the front of the goal, scoring with a low shot. Wesleyan tied the game for the fourth time, as Adam Kirk scored on a rebound after Blumenthal's shot hit the crossbar.

Middlebury took a 14-13 lead with 1:35 remaining, as Hild scored with a quick shot from 12 yards out after a quick feed from Stone. Wesleyan won the ensuing faceoff, but turned the ball over after a missed shot and a crease violation. Middlebury failed on its clearing attempt, before Jeff Begin checked the ball away from a Wesleyan attacker, giving the Panthers the ball back with 21 seconds. Middlebury failed on its clearing attempt on a second straight possession, as Spike Malangone deflected a pass and picked up the ground ball for the Cardinals. Kirk carried the ball in for the Cardinals, scoring with 16 seconds to go to force the game into overtime.

Follansbee led Wesleyan with five goals, as Blumenthal added three and an assist and Kirk added a hat-trick. Hild paced Middlebury with a career-high five goals, while Stone scored a pair and assisted in five more. Hopkins netted two and assisted on two more, as Petty and Ferrer each chipped in two goals. Mike Borrero made 11 saves in net for Wesleyan, while Britt tied a season-high with 15 saves.

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