Late Rally Falls Short as Middlebury Loses to #12 Tufts

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. Trailing 8-3 to Tufts late in the third quarter, Middlebury used a 5-1 run, closing the gap to 9-8 in the fourth. The Panthers could not net the equalizer in the final minutes, dropping a 10-9 decision to the Jumbos at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium.

The 12th ranked Tufts squad improves to 7-2 overall and are 4-1 in NESCAC action, while Middlebury drops to 2-4 in conference play and stands at 2-6 on the season.

The Jumbos took an early 3-1 lead after one quarter as Beau Wood notched a pair including a man-up goal to close the first stanza. Middlebury answered in the second quarter when Joel Blockowicz put a bounce shot on goal that appeared to ricochet off Tufts' goalie Patton Watkins stick and into the back of the net at 12:59. Leading 3-2, the Jumbos closed out the half scoring two more goals including one off a nice feed by Cole Bailey to Geordie Schafer with 58 seconds left for a 5-2 lead at intermission.

Bailey set up Wood to open the third on a cross-crease laser helper at 14:03, as Schafer notched another at 10:09 for a 7-2 Jumbo advantage. Both teams exchanged scores before Middlebury strung three in a row in the final minutes of the third quarter. Stew Kerr scored a pair during the burst, including his third of the game at 1:40, cutting the deficit to 8-6. Wood and Schafer connected with 11 seconds left in the third as Wood scored his fourth off a Schafer feed for a 9-6 lead after three quarters.

In the fourth, Middlebury's Bucky Pierce scored a man-up goal at 10:34, before Tim Cahill cut it to 9-8 after collecting a cross bar missed shot groundball in front of the crease at 7:04. Bailey set up teammate Chris Schoenhut at 5:56, giving the Jumbos a 10-8 advantage before Andrew Metros struck for the Panthers 31 seconds later.

Trailing 10-9 with less than two minutes to play, Middlebury had a pair of possessions down the stretch, but did not get a shot on goal to tie the game.

For the game, the Panthers held a decisive 15-7 face-off lead, a 40-25 groundball advantage, outshot the Jumbos 34-29, and were 3/5 on extra-man opportunities.

Middlebury was paced by Jack Balaban's two goals and two assists, as Kerr collected a hat trick and Brian Foster won 15/22 face-offs. Nate Gaudio allowed 10 goals in net for the Panthers, stopping nine shots.

Wood's four goals and Schafer's three and one assist led Tufts, while Bailey chipped in with a game-high three helpers. Nick Rhodes grabbed a game-best six groundballs, as Watkins made eight saves in goal, allowing nine goals on the day.

2012-04-05



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