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NESCAC Championship Final
Tufts 13, Middlebury 12

At Medford, MA
Sunday, May 9, 2010

Game Box Score

Junior D.J. Hessler beat his man to score the game-winning goal

MEDFORD -- The Tufts University men's lacrosse team won its first NESCAC championship on Sunday after scoring six unanswered goals, including two each by juniors D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD) and Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY, to battle back from a four-goal deficit and defeat Middlebury College at 13-12 at Bello Field. The Jumbos, who improved to 16-1, earn the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Witko scored four goals overall and Hessler finished with two goals and two assists to lead the Jumbos, who had advanced to the final with an 11-10 comeback win against Wesleyan on Saturday. Junior David Hild (West Hartford, CT) scored a game-high seven points with five goals and two assists to lead Middlebury, who dropped to 11-5 overall and will await a possible at-large berth into the NCAA's.

Hild scored twice for Middlebury in the first period, including a goal with 23 seconds remaining that gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead after one. Tufts dominated early in the second quarter, scoring five goals in the first 3:26 to go up 7-3. Witko had two goals during the stretch. However, the momentum shifted dramatically towards Middlebury late in the second quarter. They ran off a five-goal run of their own, including two more by Hild, and the Panthers led 8-7 at halftime.

Middlebury extended its run to eight straight goals by continuing to control the game and scoring the first three goals of the second half. The Panthers led 11-7 on a tally by freshman Eric Pfeffer (Glastonbury, CT) with 5:17 remaining in the third. Hild scored and assisted the first two Panthers goals of the second half, and the seven-time conference champions looked poised to add to their trophy case.

In a game of dramatic shifts, Tufts stopped the run with Hessler's goal at 2:06 of the third that started their own game-winning rally. Back-to-back goals by Witko tied the score at 11-11 with 12:04 to go in the fourth. Then from behind the net, Hessler made a move to beat his defender and scored the go-ahead goal unassisted at the 9:23 mark. Jumbo senior Jamie Atkins (Concord, MA) scored an insurance goal at 8:53, which was much needed when Cahill converted a pass from Hild at 2:11 to pull the Panthers within 12-11. Tufts sophomore Nick Rhoads (McLean, VA) won the ensuing draw, Middlebury did not get another shot on net, and the Jumbos stormed the field to celebrate their first conference title.

Rhoads dominated the face-off circle for Tufts, winning 18 out of 27. Sophomores Sean Kirwan (Boonton Township, NJ) and Kevin McCormick (Laytonsville, MD) both had two goals and an assist for the Jumbos. Senior tri-captain Eytan Saperstein (Hewlett, NY) was immense on defense, grabbing eight ground balls, while senior tri-captain Mike Droesch (Setauket, NY) added four. Sophomore Steve Foglietta (Oceanside, NY) made eight saves in goal, with two in each period.

Cahill finished with three goals and two assists for Middlebury, who also received a pair of tallies from junior Andrew Conner (Alexandria, VA). Junior goalie Ryan Deane (Grosse Pointe, MI) led the Panthers with six ground balls and made 13 saves.

Tufts University Jumbos - 2010 NESCAC Champions