No. 8 Wesleyan (Conn.) Outlasts No. 10 Men’s Lacrosse, 17-12, in NESCAC Semifinals Saturday

Recap Courtesy of Bates Athletic Communications Office

LEWISTON, Maine – The second-seeded Wesleyan University (Conn.) men's lacrosse team never trailed in a 17-12 victory over the fifth-seeded Tufts University in the semifinals of the NESCAC Championship Saturday afternoon on the campus of Bates College.

Danny Murphy finished with a goal and four assists for the Jumbos.

The Cardinals (16-1, 9-1 in NESCAC) advance to play sixth-seeded Middlebury in the championship game Sunday at noon on Bates' Garcelon Field. The Panthers upset the host Bobcats, 14-13, earlier in the day.  

The Jumbos (12-5, 6-4 in NESCAC) will await a possible berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The loss ends the Jumbos' string of seven consecutive NESCAC titles. 

Harry Stanton and Carter Hawthorne both turned in outstanding performance for the victorious Cardinals. Stanton tallied a game-high four goals and dished out a pair of assists. Hawthorne scored three goals and tallied a game-high five assists.  

The Jumbos got three goals apiece from Michael Mattson, Zach Richman and Ben Connelly. Danny Murphy scored one goal and dished out a team-high four assists. 

A dominant first half proved to be enough for Wesleyan, as the Cardinals scored more goals in the first half (14) than Tufts did in the entire game (12). Wesleyan led by as many as 12 goals before Tufts went on a late 7-0 run.  

The Cardinals jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the first quarter on goals from four different players.

Cole Turpin got Wesleyan on the board on an assist from Christian Barker with 11:37 left in the first. Less than a minute later, Stanton scored unassisted and with 9:13 left, Barker found Taylor Ghesquiere to extend the lead to 3-0. Less than a minute after that, Zander Kotsen connected with Hawthorne, forcing Tufts to call timeout with 8:22 to go in the first.

With 7:09 left in the first quarter, the Cardinals took advantage of a man-up situation after Tufts got called for a push. Ghesquiere struck from 15 yards out to make the score 5-0 and with 6:17 to go, and then Hawthorne found Stanton for the NESCAC leading scorer's second goal of the day.

The Jumbos finally tallied their first goal of the game when Murphy delivered a nice feed in front of the net to Richman. Richman's goal cut the deficit to 6-1 with 5:40 to go in the first.

With 3:09 left in the first, Wesleyan extended the lead to 7-1 when Barker notched his first goal of the day on an assist from Turpin. The Jumbos won the ensuing faceoff and raced down the field, scoring right away when Mattson struck from distance on an assist from Tucker Mathers.

Then, the Jumbos cut the deficit to four after goalie Ben Shmerler made his seventh save of the quarter. Tufts pushed the ball down the field and after the teams quickly traded turnovers, Tyler Carbone scored off the Cardinal turnover to make the score 7-3 with 1:02 to go in the first quarter.

Tufts nearly cut the deficit to three, but Wesleyan goalie Ted Bergman made a nice save on a Mattson shot as time expired. Wesleyan led 7-3 at the end of one.

The Jumbos did pull to within three with 11:49 left in the half thanks to a failed Wesleyan clear attempt. Nick Katz picked up the ground ball and Murphy found Frank Hattler, who found the back of the net by going top shelf from distance.

Wesleyan won the ensuing faceoff and quickly turned the ball over. Barker made a great play at midfield to secure possession again for the Cardinals and Turpin made the effort pay off with his second goal of the day to extend the Wesleyan lead to 8-4 with 9:39 left in the half.

Barker continued his strong play by taking advantage of a two man-up situation with 8:54 to go, making the score 9-4 in favor of the Cardinals.

Less than 30 seconds later, Wesleyan continued their first-half scoring barrage on a Stanton goal from straight on off an assist from Kotsen. 

The teams traded possessions and the Cardinals forced a turnover at midfield and slick-ball movement down the field led to another score. This time, Hawthorne scored his second goal of the half on a wide open look in transition to push the lead to 11-4 with 7:09 left in second quarter.

With 5:19 left, Hawthorne connected with Tom Dupont on the near side of the net and Dupont scored from a tricky angle, almost parallel to the goal, making the score 12-4.

Late in the half, the Jumbos turned the ball over and once again Wesleyan impressed in the transition game. Stanton picked the ball up at midfield and he hit Hawthorne in stride for the sophomore's third goal of the first half. Stanton finished the game with a team-high six ground balls. 

Then, with 16.5 seconds to go, the Cardinals extended their lead to 14-4 on a Cory Ekstrom goal off an assist from Stanton. 

The Cardinals outshot the Jumbos, 32-18, in the first half and Wesleyan also won 13 of 20 faceoffs. 

Neither team scored for the first five minutes of the third quarter, until Turpin hit Dupont in stride on a cross to make the score 15-4 with 9:39 left in the period.

Wesleyan struck again when Hawthorne escaped pressure and passed the ball to Stanton. Stanton went top shelf to extend the Cardinal lead to 12 with 8:03 remaining in the third, their biggest advantage of the game. 

With 5:49 to go in the quarter, the Jumbos took advantage of a man-up situation following a slashing penalty against the Cardinals to get their first goal of the second half. Ben Connelly bounced the ball in on an assist from Hattler.

Tufts got another man-up chance thanks to an offsides call and Connelly cashed in again, this time on an assist from Mattson to cut the deficit to 16-6 with 1:29 left in the third. 

The Jumbos won the ensuing faceoff and quickly scored their third straight goal, with Murphy finding the back of the net on an assist from Hattler. 

The Jumbos outscored Wesleyan, 3-2, in the third, but the Cardinals took a 16-7 lead into the fourth quarter of action.

Tufts got on the board first in the fourth quarter when Mattson rolled the ball through the Wesleyan goalie's legs to trim the deficit to 16-8 with 11:42 left in regulation.

After winning the faceoff, the Jumbos continued their run on another Mattson goal. Then, the Jumbos took advantage of a man-up situation to trim the Cardinal advantage to 16-10 on a Richman goal with an assist to Murphy. 

Trailing, 16-10, with 11:02 left, the Jumbos gained possession again thanks to a faceoff violation. One minute later, Richman scored yet again on another assist from Murphy, making the score 16-11 with 10:04 left.

The Cardinals put a stop to the Jumbos' 7-0 run when Hawthorne found Dupont with a skip pass and Dupont finished for his third goal of the afternoon, putting Wesleyan up 17-11 with 7:13 left.

With 3:25 to go, Connelly went behind-the-back for his third goal of the game, trimming the Cardinals' lead to five.

Neither team scored after that as Wesleyan ran out the clock for the victory. 

This marks Wesleyan's sixth appearance in the NESCAC championship game. The Cardinals won the title once, in 2009.