The men’s lacrosse team (6-4, 3-2 NESCAC) faced hot NESCAC competition this week with games against Colby (6-3, 2-3 NESCAC) and Amherst (9-1, 4-1 NESCAC). Both games were decided by just one goal, with Saturday’s contest against Colby going 9-8 in favor of the Cards and Wednesday’s match-up against Amherst ending 14-13 to the Lord Jeffs.
A surprise snowstorm in Middletown on Saturday set the stage for a classic NESCAC battle against the Mules, close neighbors in the league standings.
The first quarter was tight and ended three apiece, but after a good second quarter from the Mules, the Cards found themselves down 6-3 going into the second half. Wes then flipped it around in the third to knot it up at six entering the final quarter.
Despite jumping out to an 8-6 lead after two rips from Niall Devaney ’16, the Birds allowed Colby back into the contest, conceding two goals after a man-up situation and a sloppy turnover.
Deadlocked at eight with four minutes to play, the Cards pushed toward a goal but were forced to kill a penalty with two minutes left to play. With a minute remaining on the clock, goaltender Justin Schick ’15 made the last of a career-high 18 saves and then found a teammate, triggering a fast break. The ball found Harry Stanton ’18, who dunked in the winner with only 52 seconds to go.
The Cards lost the face-off but ended up with the ball after a careless turnover by Colby, after which Nate Ryan ’15 ran around the offensive end with desperate and hopeless Colby players in pursuit, and then slung the ball high into the air. The buzzer sounded before it came back down to earth, sealing the Cardinals’ 9-8 victory.
Netminder Schick’s career game followed a Western Connecticut State University performance in which he allowed only two goals. For his superior efforts, Schick received three honors: NESCAC Player of the Week, ECAC New England Division III Defensive Player of the Week, and U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division III North Defensive Player of the Week.
Harry Stanton added three goals to his tally (now at 20), Devaney snagged two, and lefty sniper Tom Dupont ’17 racked up his second and third of the season to lead the way for the squad.
Captain defenseman Kevin Campbell ’15 has been huge for the Cardinals lately, and he summed up the team’s performance.
“The Colby game was huge for us because it was the start of a run of consecutive NESCAC opponents to end the season,” Campbell wrote in an email to The Argus. “We went down early but came out ready to play in the second half and eventually pulled it out. It was big that we started the second half of our season with a win over a quality NESCAC opponent because we are trying to grab a top-seed in the conference tournament, which would give us a first round home game. It might have been a sloppy win on our part but any win is a good win in this conference and it gave us confidence heading into our Little Three match up versus Amherst.”
The men traveled to Amherst this past Wednesday hoping to extend their winning streak to five, take down another close NESCAC peer, and make strides toward a Little Three title.
“Any game against Amherst is huge, but after losing to them twice last year, once which ended our season, we wanted revenge on their home field,” Campbell wrote.
The Birds led for most of the first three periods, and at different times were up 4-1, 8-5, and 10-9. Amherst pushed ahead 12-10 early in the fourth, but Wesleyan responded with goals from Taylor Ghesquiere ’18 and Devaney.
Again, Amherst found two goals to make it 14-12, but senior Steven Dodd’s second goal of the game made it a one-score game with five minutes on the clock. Unfortunately, the Cards could not find the tying goal, and the game ended in favor of the Lord Jeffs.
“The loss was really hard to swallow because we took an early lead and fought them hard the entire game but ended up with another one-goal defeat,” Campbell wrote. “We played hard on both ends of the field but had too many turnovers and errors that Amherst was able to capitalize on.”
Two big factors punctuated the Lord Jeffs’ success. First, they dominated faceoffs, taking 23 of 31, which made it difficult for the Cards to apply sustained pressure for any period of the game. Second, the Lord Jeffs tallied ten assists, pointing to their unselfishness and passing style, which the Cards found tough to deal with.
Schick played another monster game, making 14 saves to keep the game within reach for the Redbirds. In the Cardinals’ four losses this season, they have only been defeated by a total of five goals, signifying that these losses could turn into wins later in the season if they cement their fourth quarter execution.
“We hope to see them again in the NESCAC tournament, just like last year,” Campbell wrote “As hard as it was, we don’t have time feel bad for ourselves because we have a quick turn around when we play Tufts this Saturday at home and we have to learn from our mistakes.”
Wesleyan, now ranked 20th in Division III, host the unbeaten and top-ranked Jumbos on Saturday, which will prove easily their toughest game of the season thus far.
The Birds will also be without their defensive anchor, Captain longsticker Mikhiel Tareen ’15, who suffered a calf injury in the Amherst game and missed half the game. He expects to be back for their game next week against Tuesday.