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Middlebury 11, Tufts 10

At Middlebury, VT
Saturday, April 11, 2009

Game Box Score

Sophomore D.J. Hessler is one assist shy of the single-season record

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Mike Stone's goal at 6:03 in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference, giving the Middlebury College men's lacrosse team an 11-10 victory over Tufts on Saturday at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. The Jumbos had two opportunities to tie the game in the final minute, but were denied the equalizer.

In the battle of two nationally ranked teams, the fourth-ranked Panthers improve to 9-1 and 6-1 in NESCAC play, while Tufts drops to 9-2 overall and 5-2 in conference action. With the win, Middlebury takes over sole possession of first place in the conference.

The evenly played first half saw the Panthers take the lead on five separate occasions, only to see Tufts battle back to tie it up four times, including Clem McNally's (Far Hills, NJ) goal, knotting the score at six-all with 3:52 left in the second quarter. Middlebury answered with a pair to end the half, including Tim Cahill's third goal of the season, set up by an excellent pass from Stone for an 8-6 lead at intermission.

The Panthers built their lead to 9-6 in the third when Stone scored on a move towards the cage at 11:32. The Jumbos got a pair back, as senior Kevin Williams (Merrick, NY) scored off a nifty move to his right and set up the other goal on a man-up tally by sophomore Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY). Skyler Hopkins ended the third with his 18th goal of the season, with a lefty shot coming off a driving move to his right for a 10-8 Panther lead.

Tufts cut the lead to one when McNally netted his 35th on the year at 8:58 and tied it for the fifth and final time (10-10) when Williams notched his second of the day with 7:04 left in the game. Nearly a minute later, Stone collected his hat trick on another driving move to the crease for the 11-10 lead.

With the clock winding down below 30 seconds to play, the Jumbos attacked the net, but Panther goaltender Pete Britt made a key save on a Chase Bibby (Marblehead, MA) shot. Middlebury failed to clear the ball, setting up a low-post move by sophomore D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD), the NESCAC's leading scorer, but Hessler committed a crease violation with four seconds remaining, turning the ball over and sealing the win for Middlebury.

Stone led all scorers with three goals and one assist, while Hopkins added a pair of goals for Middlebury. Six other Panthers had solo tallies, including Alex Englert's second career goal. McNally led Tufts with a hat trick and Williams netted a pair and assisted on a third, while sophomore Ryan Molloy (Setauket, NY) scored two and Hessler assisted on two more. With 34 assists in '09, Hessler is one shy of the team record (35 by Bryan Griffin in 2004).

Britt earned the win, stopping 12 shots while allowing 10 goals, holding the number one scoring team in the NESCAC to six fewer goals than previously averaged (16.22/game). Senior Matt Harrigan (Darnestown, MD) suffered the loss, letting up 11 goals and making 13 saves.