This past weekend, the men’s lacrosse team traveled to Williamstown, Mass. and came away with a hard fought 8-7 victory over Little Three rival Williams. With the win, the Cardinals move to 8-3 on the season. With a NESCAC record of 5-1, the Cards are currently tied with Tufts for second place in the conference behind Bowdoin, while the loss puts the Ephs at 6-4 and a conference record of 4-2.
“I thought the team played with great energy,” said Captain Sam Stanton ’14. “We were not playing in an ideal setting and were missing Captain Elliot Albert [’14] our top D pole, and that made us bear down even more to get a great NESCAC win and remain at the top of the league.”
Albert injured his shoulder this past weekend, and will be questionable for the team’s game at Trinity on Tuesday.
With the win, the Cardinals have now won their last four meetings against the Ephs. This marks the longest winning streak against their Little Three rival. Also, for the seniors, it marks the first time when an individual class year has gone 4-0 against the Ephs.
“Williams has always been a strong opponent; beating a Little Three team is always a fantastic feeling,” commented Captain Aidan Daniell ’14.
The Cardinals have learned there is no such thing as an easy win against Williams, and last Saturday was no exception. With just under 13 minutes to play in regulation, Quentin DellaFera ’15 gave the Cardinals a 7-4 lead, but the Ephs came storming back and scored three goals in less than two minutes to knot the score at 7 with 10.5 minutes remaining on the clock. The score remained tied for nearly ten minutes until DellaFera, with 42 seconds left, dodged from behind the goal, eluded his defender, shot and scored, completing his hat trick and giving the Cards an 8-7 lead to secure a victory.
“DellaFera is a very clutch player,” Daniell said. “In my time at Wesleyan he has had by far the most final-minute goals.”
Despite the late heroics, the Cardinals struggled to score points during man-up opportunities. Over their last four games, the Cards are 3 for 14 when they have the extra-man advantage, and went 0 for 9 in last week’s Little Three games against Amherst and Williams.
“I think the team can improve this number by taking better quality shots on the man up,” Stanton said. “That means making the extra pass if we need to, or taking an extra step towards the cage.”
After allowing his opponent double-digit goal totals in consecutive NESCAC games, Head Coach John Raba opted to make a defensive adjustment in goal, pulling Mark Simmons ’14. Justin Schick ’15 started for the first time this season and notched his first win of the 2014 campaign defending the Wesleyan net.
“I think sometimes when teams are starting to put up more than 10 goals a game on you, you feel the need to make a change,” Albert said. “Justin has been playing really well and has been making key saves in practice all season long, so Coach Raba wanted to give him a chance.”
With only four regular season games left, the Cardinals have some big games over the coming weeks. They host first place Bowdoin on April 12 at home, and will travel to defending NESCAC champions Tufts on April 19. Coming away with victories would secure a top seed for the NESCAC Championship, which the Cardinals last won in 2009.
“How the team plays in April means everything in terms of getting ready for the NESCAC tournament,” Stanton said. “We have a lot of guys stepping up and continuing to improve, so I think it will be a great opportunity for us to make some noise come the tournament.”