Wesleyan Rallies to Knock off No. 7 Tufts

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (April 20) - Recovering from a 3-0 deficit after the first quarter, Wesleyan rattled off five straight goal in the second period, taking the lead for good with 3:53 to go before halftime on the second goal of the game by junior Mike Giambanco, and went on to secure an 8-7 NESCAC victory over visiting Tufts, 8-7, here today.

Tufts came into the game ranked seventh nationally in Division III and second in New England, having won 10 of its last 11 contests. Wesleyan is ranked sixth regionally and ended a four-game losing streak vs. Tufts while closing out its regular-season home schedule with an 8-0 mark.

Scoring three goals in a span of 2:06 early in the second stanza, Wesleyan erased Tufts' 3-0 advantage as the Jumbos did all the scoring during the opening 15 minutes. Wesleyan junior Graham Macnab made it 3-1 by cutting through the Tufts defense and scoring a low shot at 13:20. Giambanco got his first of the game 1:10 later with a hard bouncer from the right side. Senior Max Rosenman tied the game at 11:14 by spotting a low bouncer just inside the right post. Macnab got his 20th of the year. Rosenman picked up his third.

When Giambanco bounced in another long-range shot from the right at 3:53, his 13th of the season, Wesleyan had the lead for good. Junior Remy Lieberman finished off the five-goal run, taking a pass from senior Sam Stanton and completing a fast-break rush right off the faceoff at 3:42. Senior Jeff Gioncondi won 11 of 19 faceoffs for the Cardinals in the contest.

Tufts got one back before halftime as top-goal-getter junior Beau Wood netted his second of the game off a feed from senior Andrew Fiamengo with just :19 on the clock. Wood had opened the Jumbos' scoring at 10:32, taking a pass from behind the net by sophomore Cole Bailey, who had four assists in the game, beginning a three-goal Tufts' run with a high shot. Wood upped his seasonal goal total to 28 during the game. Sophomores Peter Gill and Chris Schoenhut had the other two goals of the stanza. Schoenhut ended the game with a pair as he stands second on the squad behind Wood with 27 tallies.

Wesleyan led by one or two goals throughout the second half as the teams traded goals three times with Wesleyan opening the scoring at 11:27 on sophomore Quentin DellaFera's cut from behind the net around the crease and tuck-in shot. Junior Dan Leventhal responded at 9:12 after another smart pass by Bailey. Lieberman then got his second at 7:51, followed by Schoenhut's second at 6:37. The teams entered the fourth quarter separated by a goal, 7-6.

Long-pole middie senior Brendan Hanley got his eighth goal of the season at 10:16, giving Wesleyan a much-needed two-goal cushion as he caught an outlet pass from junior goalie Mark Simmons (nine saves) at the midfield line and motored inside the box to unleash a bouncer. Wesleyan nursed the lead into the closing minutes, but a fast-break by Tufts resulted in Fiamengo's 24th goal of the year at 1:25, making it 8-7.

Tufts won the ensuing faceoff but lost control in its own end. The teams gave the ball back and forth into the final minute in the Tufts zone before Wesleyan regained control for good and drew a Tufts slashing penalty with just :12 to go. Wesleyan ended the game with possession.

Tufts used freshman Alex Salazar in net for the first half as he collected 15 saves while yielding five goals. Many of his stops were spectacular. Junior Patton Watkins played the second half, making five saves with three goals allowed.

Heading into the final regular-season games of the NESCAC season, to be played Wed., April 24, Middlebury and Conn. College are tied for first place with 7-2 conference marks. Wesleyan and Tufts are right behind at 6-3. Wesleyan visits Conn for its final game, while Tufts travels to Bowdoin (5-4). Middlebury is in the driver's seat for the top seed by virtue of its earlier win over Conn, and can clinch home field for the tournament by defeating Williams (3-6) in its season finale. A Wesleyan win at Conn would assure the Cardinals of a first-round home game Sat., April 27. The same is true for Tufts with a victory at Bowdoin.


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