May 12, 2009

Middlebury, Wesleyan Set to Tangle

from press releases

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury is making its 12th consecutive and 13th overall appearance in the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament. The Panthers earned a 15-11 win over St. Lawrence in a second-round game and will meet Wesleyan in a quarterfinal match-up on Wednesday, May 13th at 4:00 p.m. This will be the third meeting between the schools, with the Cardinals handing the Panthers their only two losses of the season.

Middlebury holds a 22-16-1 all-time series advantage over Wesleyan, with several post-season match-ups over the past five seasons. After no games between the schools from '84-'01, the series resumed in '02 with the Panthers holding a 10-5 advantage since then. Middlebury defeated Wesleyan in the NESCAC Championship game four straight seasons from '04-'07, earning an NCAA Quarterfinal win in '05 and an NCAA second-round loss in '07. The Cardinals picked up a pair of one-goal wins this season, earning an 8-7 win in Middletown on March 14th, before topping the Panthers 15-14 in overtime in the NESCAC semifinals on May 2nd.

Last Saturday, Middlebury outscored St. Lawrence 7-0 in the third quarter on its way to a 15-11 win over the Saints. With the game tied at 6-6, the Panthers went on their decisive run, holding their opponent's scoreless for a 19:42 span. Jack Masur, who owned two goals entering the game, paced the team with a career-best three tallies.

The Panthers are 28-9 in NCAA play since they first qualified for the tourney in '96. Their .757 NCAA winning percentage is higher than any other team currently competing in Division III lacrosse. Middlebury has advanced to the NCAA title game in six of the last nine seasons, winning three straight NCAA crowns in '00, '01 and '02.

Middlebury opened '09 with a win over Bates before suffering an 8-7 road loss at Wesleyan on March 14th. The Panthers then rattled off a dozen straight wins before dropping a 14-13 overtime game to Wesleyan in the NESCAC semifinals. Middlebury finished the NESCAC regular season with an 8-1 record, two games ahead of Bowdoin, Tufts and Wesleyan. Middlebury has outscored its opponents by a slim margin this season, holding a 13-10.5 scoring advantage. The Panthers have won three one-goal games, three two-goal games and two three-goal games this season, with both losses coming by a goal.

Middlebury is second in the NESCAC in scoring this season with 13.06 goals/game, while leading the league with a .490 efficiency in man-up situations. Reigning NESCAC Player of the Year  Mike Stone (52-15-67) leads the NESCAC in goals/game with 3.25, while ranking second with 4.19 points/game. Junior Pete Smith (14-39-53) is second in the league with 2.44 assists/game, while senior Dave Campbell is third with his 7.88 ground balls/contest. Senior Skyler Hopkins (30-19-49), senior Tom Petty (29-7-36), senior Matt Ferrer (24-6-30) and sophomore David Hild (24-5-29) round out the leading scorers. Peter Britt is 14-2 with a 10.36 GAA and a .529 save percentage.

Wesleyan is making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five seasons. The Cardinals advanced to the semifinal round in both '06 and '07. The Cardinals earned their way into the tournament with a 14-10 win over Tufts in the NESCAC Championship game. Wesleyan suffer losses this season to Bowdoin, Tufts and Williams, having won their last five straight games. The Cardinals lead the NESCAC with a 6.50 goals against average.

Russ Follansbee (44-25-69), Jason Ben-Eliyahu (24-20-44), Jon Killeen (25-16-41) and Lonny Blumenthal (24-9-33) lead the team in scoring. Mike Borrero is 15-3 with a 6.61 GAA and a .576 save percentage in goal. Matt Ward is .598 efficient in the face-off circle, while Gabe Kelley (78), John Froats (74) and Spike Malangone (73) lead the team in ground balls.


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