Amherst Comes up Short Against Wesleyan, 6-5

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men's lacrosse team suffered a tough 6-5 loss to NESCAC and Little Three archrival Wesleyan University this afternoon on a cold and rainy day at Gooding Field in Amherst, Mass. The Lord Jeffs fall to 4-6 (2-5 NESCAC) on the season, while the Cardinals improve to 10-2 (5-2).

Amherst seemingly did everything it needed to pull out a win this afternoon, out-shooting Wesleyan 34-20, winning the ground ball battle 36-31, and going 2-for-4 on man-up opportunities. The Cardinals won 11-of-15 face-offs to control the possession game, and also got 12 big saves from senior Mike Borrero to hold on for the win.

Wesleyan scored the day's first goal with 11:22 to play in the first quarter, as Russ Follansbee netted an unassisted goal past Amherst quad-captain Matt Pietroforte (Brooklyn, NY). Amherst responded with a three-goal run, including back-to-back scores from J.T. Milone (Manhasset, NY). Milone's goals came a little over five minutes apart, with the second one coming on a man-up assist from Alex Fox (Garden City, NY). Amherst's lead grew to 3-1 with 2:27 to play in the first, as senior Brett Miller (Wantagh, NY) assisted junior Tom McDonnell (Manhasset, NY).

The Cardinals battled back with a strong second quarter, scoring the only two goals of the frame early on. Lonny Blumenthal and Follansbee put home the pair of Wesleyan scores with 13:50 and 12:18 to play in the stanza. The duo of unassisted scores tied the game 3-3 heading into halftime.

Wesleyan regained the lead for on a Jon Killeen goal early in the third quarter, as the Cardinal junior finished off a feed from senior Adam Kirk. Just 1:31 later, McDonnell responded for Amherst with the Lord Jeffs' second man-up goal of the game, this time on an assist from Luke Arnold (Lincoln, MA). 

The Cardinals' John Froats and Amherst's McDonnell traded even strength goals through the middle of the third quarter, keeping the game deadlocked at 5-5. Killeen put Wesleyan on top 6-5 with 1:52 on Kirk's second assist, providing what would ultimately stand as the game-winner. 

The fourth quarter finished scoreless on both sides of this long-standing rivalry, but was not without excitement. Wesleyan's Nate Green was called for a pushing penalty with just 51 seconds to play, giving Amherst a golden opportunity for an equalizer. The Lord Jeffs put heavy pressure on Borrero, who made a trio of big saves in the fourth quarter, with none bigger than a point-blank save on a Milone bid with 17 seconds to play.

Amherst got strong performances in the defensive end of the field, holding Wesleyan well below their 10.58 goals-per-game season average. Senior quad-captain Chris Fitzpatrick (Fort Salonga, NY) and classmate Nick Gilligan (The Woodlands, TX) each had stellar games. Fitzpatrick scooped up a team-high five ground balls, while Gilligan drew a pair of penalties while pushing Amherst's transition game.

The Lord Jeffs will have just a few days to recover from this hard-fought decision before hosting Springfield College on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.