AMHERST, Mass. – The sixth-ranked Amherst College men's lacrosse team used a balanced offensive effort that saw nine different players score to help the Jeffs secure a 16-10 victory over No. 11 Middlebury College in Saturday afternoon's NCAA Division III Championship Second Round contest at Pratt Field.
With the win, Amherst (18-2) advances to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA postseason for the second time since 2011. The Jeffs are now 5-2 all-time in NCAA tournament games, and picked up their second win over Middlebury in NCAA playoff action. The Panthers conclude their 2015 campaign 13-6 overall.
Amherst will meet Tufts University Wednesday, May 13 in the NCAA tournament quarterfinal round in Medford, Mass. The fifth-ranked Jumbos knocked off No. 12 Bates College, 13-8 to punch their ticket to the round of eight. The Jeffs defeated Tufts, 12-6 in the regular season matchup, before the Jumbos posted a 16-4 win over the Purple & White in the NESCAC championship contest. Wednesday's game time is yet to be determined.
In the first quarter, Amherst raced out to an early 4-0 lead as Quinn Moroney '16 and Matt Killian '17 netted back-to-back unassisted goals, before Moroney found Kane Haffey '16 with a score at the 5:31 mark of the frame to make it 3-0. A man-up goal by Patrick Routh '15 following a stellar feed from Dylan Park '16 lifted the lead to 4-0 with 3:34 to play, before Jon Broome scored a goal on the extra-man opportunity with 1:49 left in the first quarter. Kyle Soroka assisted on the strike to set the score at 4-1 after 15 minutes of play.
In the second stanza, Soroka found the back of the net early in the second, before Charlie Gill '16 answered to make it 5-2 with 12:02 on the clock. Gill then dished out a pass to Chris Albanese '17 who fired it into the cage to give the Jeffs a four-goal cushion (6-2). Sean Carroll and Moroney then exchanged goals, before Tim Giarrusso added a goal to pull Middlebury to within three at 7-4 with 7:32 left in the first half. Michael Litner '16 then chalked up his first marker of the game on a feed from Gill with 6:06 remaining in the second quarter to give the Purple & White an 8-4 advantage at halftime.
Cody Tranbarger '17 made six saves in the first 30 minutes of play, while Will Ernst turned away a pair of shots in the first half.
In the third quarter, Kevin Curry '15 struck just 32 seconds into the frame, before Joel Blockowicz answered with an unassisted goal to make it 9-5 at the 12:46 mark. A goal on the ensuing faceoff by Haffey after a terrific dish from Rob Butko '17 extended the lead to 10-5, before Haffey added another tally to balloon the score to 11-5 with just under 11 minutes to play in the third session. At the 7:58 mark, Litner added his second goal of the game to make it 12-5.
Middlebury responded with three of the next four goals to make it 13-8 with 1:07 left to play in the third quarter. Joseph Zelkowitz scored on a feed from Blockowicz, before Moroney answered following a pass from Butko. Jack Rautiola then scored back-to-back markers on passes from Cal Williams and Jack Cleary respectively to cut the Panthers' deficit to five after 45 minutes of action.
At the 12:24 mark of the fourth quarter, Gill scored his second of the game to give Amherst a 14-8 lead. With 9:32 remaining in the game, Blockowicz registered his second goal of the game to set the score at 14-9. With 3:15 on the clock, Jack Cahill '18 scored an unassisted goal to increase the Jeffs' lead to 15-9, and Albanese then found nylon for the second time to make it 16-9. A second goal by Soroka with 1:17 on the clock pulled Middlebury back to within six (16-10) but that's as close as the Panthers could get as the Purple & White killed off a late penalty to seal the win.
Moroney and Haffey finished with three goals each, while Moroney added an assist for a four-point effort. Gill also logged a four-point outing, scoring a pair of goals and assisting on two others to help pace Amherst to the win.
Butko led all players with seven ground balls and added three caused turnovers, while Moroney followed with four ground ball pickups. Tranbarger made 12 saves between the posts to notch his 18th win of the season, including four stops in the both the first and third quarters.
Blockowicz, Soroka and Rautiola each scored a pair of goals for Middlebury, while John Jackson was 18-of-28 from the faceoff dot to lead the Panthers in defeat. Nick Peterson picked up a team-high six ground balls, while Rautiola followed with five, and Zelkowitz chipped in four.
Ernst made seven saves in the loss for Middlebury and capped the season with a 13-6 overall record.