Amherst Closes Season with 15-12 Loss to Middlebury

Jeff Izzo '13 had three assists against Middlebury.

AMHERST, MA – Amherst College jumped out to an 8-2 lead over Middlebury College Sunday afternoon in the NESCAC Men’s Lacrosse Championship quarterfinal round, but the visiting Panthers used a 7-0 run to storm back for a 15-12 win on Gooding Field.

Amherst ends its season at 7-7 (5-4 NESCAC), while Middlebury improves to 10-4 (5-4) and will travel to Tufts University next weekend to take on Bowdoin College in the conference tournament semifinals.

Sunday’s game between the third-seeded Jeffs and sixth-seeded Panthers was a tale of two halves, with Amherst looking virtually unstoppable in the first 30 minutes. The Jeffs scored the game’s first three goals and went on a 5-0 run in the second quarter, holding advantages in face-offs (8-5), ground balls (13-12) and shots (28-23) in the opening two periods.

The seven-time NESCAC champions completely turned the tables, however, scoring the final two goals of the first half and the first five goals of the second. The Panthers held a commanding edge in face-offs (14-3), ground balls (22-7) and shots (26-14) in the lopsided second half.

David Hild ’11 (West Hartford, CT) and Tim Cahill ’12 (Glastonbury, CT) each had four goals for Middlebury, while Amherst was paced by four goals from Thomas McDonnell ’10 (Manhasset, NY) and four points from Evan Redwood ’12 (Lutherville, MD). Sam Jakimo ’12 (Woodbury, NY) stopped 14 shots and played an exceptional first half, while Ryan Deane ’11 (Grosse Point, MI) made nine saves for the win.

Amherst held a 3-0 lead by the time Middlebury took its first shot of the game, as the Jeffs looked like a completely different team from the one that suffered a 14-6 loss to the Panthers on Apr. 7. In a span of three minutes and 32 seconds, Alex Fox ’12 (Garden City, NY), Redwood and Dan Routh ’12 (Allendale, NJ) found the back of the cage to give the hosts a 3-0 lead with 10:27 remaining in the opening quarter.

Evan Redwood '12 had two goals and two assists in Sunday's quarterfinal game.

Hild would score with 5:39 and 1:59 remaining in the first period to make it a 3-2 game, but the next five goals went to Amherst. Redwood, Will Reed ’12 (Riverside, CT) and McDonnell each scored before five minutes had passed in the period, forcing Middlebury into a timeout. Reed’s goal was particularly impressive, as he picked off a pass in Amherst’s defensive end, carried the ball the length of the field, wound up and let loose a bullet from the right side.

The Panther timeout did not affect McDonnell, who reached the 125-goal mark for his career by scoring twice in a span of 21 seconds to give Amherst an 8-2 lead with 4:29 remaining in the first half. An unnecessary roughness penalty was called on Middlebury as the Jeffs’ seventh goal was being scored, allowing them to come right back and capitalize on a man-up opportunity.

Middlebury would take over from there, scoring the game’s next seven goals to take a 9-8 lead with 7:59 to play in the third quarter. After Hild and Cahill closed out the scoring in the first half, Pete Smith ’10 (Wilton, CT) kept his team going by beating Jakimo 1:45 into the third quarter. Smith would score twice during the 7-0 run, with Andrew Conner ’11 (Alexandria, VA), Alex Englert ’12 (Wellesley, MA) and Chris Teves ’10 (Wellesley, MA) adding unassisted scores.

Amherst tied the game at 9-9 with 6:19 to play in the third when McDonnell took a pass from Fox right in front of the cage and calmly snuck a shot past Deane. Middlebury’s usual suspects handed the lead back to the visitors before the third quarter ended, with goals from Cahill and Hild being separated by only 37 seconds. McDonnell hit the post with 10 seconds remaining in the frame, but the Panthers took their 11-9 lead into the final period.

Fox cut the deficit to one, but Middlebury answered with two goals of its own. Amherst’s Danny Gold ’13 (Medfield, MA) pushed right back to make it a 13-11 contest with 3:31 on the clock, but the Panthers again responded with a pair of goals, one of which was scored by Cahill. Rob Denious ’10 (Bloomfield Hills, MI) recorded the final goal of the afternoon with 22 seconds remaining, with Jeff Izzo ’13 (Plandome, NY) picking up his third assist of the game.

Visit the NESCAC website for the rest of Sunday’s quarterfinal results.