In 2012, the men’s lacrosse season ended prematurely in first-round action of the NESCAC tournament. On that day, the Bowdoin Polar Bears notched a two-goal advantage early on and maintained it until victory on their home field. The Cardinals undoubtedly held the painful loss in their memory when the two squads met again this Saturday, April 27 in first-round tourney play. When Bowdoin managed to poach its sixth goal of the contest with three minutes remaining in the first half, the Cardinals found themselves in a disconcertingly similar situation to where they were exactly a year ago. The 2013 Cardinals have proven time and time again, however, that they refuse to submit to any opponent no matter the score. The final 8-7 overtime win is a testament to that philosophy.
In their matchup with Bowdoin on April 13, the Cardinals were frustrated yet again by a 6-5 overtime defeat. Ultimately, that loss became the emotional fuel for a team looking to exorcise past demons and ascend to NESCAC supremacy once again.
The Cardinals’ stellar regular-season play landed the squad home-field advantage in the first round of tourney play, which netted the Cards an opportunity to score some revenge when it really counted. Jackson Field played host to over 500 people—the biggest lacrosse crowd of the year—for what was sure to be a dynamic matchup. The last few times Wesleyan has played on its home field against rivals such as Colby and Tufts, the Cards have managed to pull out victories in dramatic fashion, and the matchup on April 27 was no different.
Even with constant pressure from Mike Giambanco ’14 and Quentin DellaFera ’15, each of whom scored a hat trick, the Cardinals lagged behind a steady Bowdoin attack in the first two stanzas of play. Despite the multi-goal deficit, the Redbirds were not to be embarrassed a third time by their northern rivals. Giambanco sparked the Cardinals’ second-half surge with two unassisted goals in the first six minutes of the third quarter, bringing the score to 6-5. His partner in crime on the day, DellaFera, tied it up for the first time since the first quarter with his second goal of the game. The Cardinals’ defense got a shot in the arm in the second half as goalie JD Dieterich ’13 stepped into the match to save six shots and extend his college career by another game.
Finding themselves behind yet again in the fourth, the Redbirds managed to knot up the match again with a quick turnaround goal by David Murphy ’15 off an Aidan Daniell ’14 assist. In line with their previous matchups, Wesleyan and Bowdoin completed regulation still deadlocked at 7-7 and were primed for overtime.
The Cardinals put themselves in an excellent position to start when Jeff Giocondi ’13 won his 14th faceoff of the game to start the extra frame. Wes squandered possession, giving Bowdoin two minutes to counter on the opposite side of play. With their backs against the wall, the Cardinals forced a turnover and ended Bowdoin’s season with the subsequent possession. DellaFera came through as the Birds’ miracle worker yet again. The sophomore attacker launched the game-winning blast past the keeper’s right. It was DellaFera’s 17th goal on the season, and the Cardinals escaped to the second round.
With the stunning victory behind them, the Cards now have to take to the road to face the top-seeded Middlebury Panthers on Saturday, May 4. Although Wes dropped an early-season result against the Panthers, this first-round victory is proof that the Cardinals need not rely on the past to determine their future. The game against Middlebury will determine if the Cardinals will lock in a spot in Sunday’s championship final.