From the sound of the first whistle, the speed, intensity, and physicality of play ran high between the Cardinals and the Lord Jeffs of Amherst. Despite a hard fought battle, the Cardinals fell to the Jeffs 14-10, handing the Cardinals their first NESCAC loss of the season and their first home loss since April 25, 2012 when they fell to Conn. College 10-4. The Cardinals fall to 7-3 on the season with a conference record of 4-1, while the Jeffs improve to 7-2 and 3-2 in the NESCAC.
The Cardinals jumped out to take a four-goal lead early in the contest. Their second goal came from Quentin DellaFera ’15 during a man-down situation. DellaFera ended with three goals on the night. The Jeffs salvaged the first quarter by finally getting on the scoreboard with 3.3 seconds remaining, but from then on, Amherst came roaring back. The Jeffs went on a 6-0 run that was finally ended by Graham Macnab ’14 in the first two minutes of the second half.
“I thought the team came out fast and played really well at times, but we needed to maintain that level of play for four quarters,” said Co-Captain Elliot Albert ’14. “We need to be able to settle down and play smart when our opponent goes on a run, the way we know we are capable of.”
After trading goals early in the third, the Cardinals rattled off three straight to retake the lead at 8-7 with just under 11 minutes to play in the third.
“We were pretty aggressive early, and I think they made some mistakes, and I think when they started settling in and taking care of the ball a little bit more they had some opportunities,” said Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach John Raba after the game. “I also thought they had a couple of really good players who have been playing for a while that really stepped up tonight.”
Heading into the fourth quarter the Cardinals were trailing 10-9, and were in striking distance. Early in the fourth, however, the Jeffs scored two goals less than three minutes apart, giving them a three-goal cushion.
“They put some pressure on us that we were hoping to stop, but we really couldn’t stop them,” Raba said.
Although the Cardinals had some good scoring opportunities throughout the game, they could not convert as the Amherst goalie made key stops late in the game and ended with a total of 16 saves.
“The Amherst goalie had a great game, and they were hungry for a Little Three win,” said Co-Captain Aidan Daniell ’14.
The Cardinals will play their other Little Three foe, the Ephs of Williams, this Saturday, April 5 at Mass College of Liberal Arts, in North Adams, Mass., and will use this loss as motivation in search of a critical conference win.
Losing this game means that Wesleyan cannot win the Little Three championship outright, breaking its two-year title streak.
“I think the team can take away that every game is hard fought and we can’t overlook any team,” Daniell said. “The Amherst game should provide the necessary spark for the Williams game.”
As they prepare for Saturday, the Cardinals will be focused on staying composed and doing what they do best.
“We are at our best when everyone is touching the rock, and we struggle a little bit when we try to make one pass and try to go to the cage,” Raba said. “When we get four or five touches to some open guys, we are just a better team offensively, so I think we really need to work on that over the next couple of days because Williams is a very good team as well.”