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Tufts 7    Middlebury 6    ot

At Medford, MA
Saturday, April 28, 2007

Game Box Score

MEDFORD -- Sophomore Chase Bibby (Marblehead, MA) scored 1:45 into the first overtime period to lift the ninth-ranked Tufts University men's lacrosse team to its first-ever NESCAC regular-season title with a 7-6 victory over Middlebury College on Saturday afternoon at Bello Field.

The Jumbos earned a bye for the first round of the conference tournament that starts tomorrow, and will host the semi-finals and championship game next weekend (May 5-6). Tufts and Wesleyan both finished the NESCAC season with 8-1 records, but the Jumbos beat the Cardinals 9-6 on March 24.

With the victory, the Jumbos defeated the Panthers for the first time in 40 years, ending a 29-game losing streak. The last Tufts victory came during the 1967 season by an 8-5 score.

Bibby's goal decided another hard-fought NESCAC contest for the Jumbos, who improved to 12-2 overall. They got a strong game from sophomore goaltender Matt Harrigan (Darnestown, MD), who made 16 saves. Middlebury earned the sixth seed in the conference tournament with a 4-5 NESCAC finish (7-6 overall). Four of their five conference losses came in overtime.

The teams were tied 1-1 at the end of the first period, and Tufts led 3-2 at the intermission after junior Matt Caple (Wellesley, MA) scored with 1:19 remaining in the second period. The Panthers scored the first three goals of the second half to go ahead 5-3 at 3:40 of the third quarter when senior tri-captain Nick Bastis (Old Greenwich, CT) scored The Jumbos responded with a three-goal run of their own and led 6-5 after senior Chris Connelly (Wilton, CT) scored with 10:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Tufts held that lead into the final minute when Middlebury sophomore Mike Stone (Boston, MA) scored a miraculous goal while lying on the turf with 47 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 6-6. Middlebury gained possession and called time-out late in the fourth, but it did not result in any chances.

In overtime, Tufts was awarded the face-off on a Middlebury infraction and soon Bibby was scoring one of the biggest goals in the team's history.

The statistics favor Middlebury, which held a 41-26 edge in shots, 24-15 in ground balls and won 12 of the 17 face-offs. However, the Jumbos got a solid game from Harrigan and two goals apiece from Bibby and classmate Clem McNally (Farhills, NJ). Stone scored three times for the Panthers, and senior goalie Alex Palmisano (Southport, CT) made eight saves for the Panthers, who will play at Trinity in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament tomorrow.

JumboCast audio of game-winning goal: