Middlebury fell to Tufts 24-6 at Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium in the season opener for both teams. In a match-up of top 20 teams, the fifth-ranked Jumbos piled up 77 shots to Middlebury’s 33. The 18th-ranked Panthers travel to Plattsburgh on March 4th, while Tufts heads to Keene State next Saturday. The 18-goal defeat is the largest margin for the Panthers since a 23-3 defeat by Harvard in 1961.
The Panthers opened their season with a crisp first-quarter goal by Taylor Pirie at 12:56. The Jumbos got the equalizer later in the first on a lefty dodge by John Uppgren. Tufts closed out the quarter adding three more goals as Dan Leventhal chipped in with a tally and an assist for a 4-1 lead.
The Jumbos added four goals to open the second quarter, building an 8-1 advantage. Chris Schoenhut opened the run, notching the second of his game-high six goals at 14:16. The Panthers got one back on a righty low-to-high tally by Tim Giarrusso at 10:33. Tufts answered, stringing together another four-goal burst, building a 12-2 lead late in the second quarter. In the final seconds of the quarter, Giarrusso netted a man-up goal for a 12-3 score at intermission.
Schoenhut opened the third quarter with his third goal, igniting another four-goal run, giving the visitors a 16-3 lead. With 11:37 left in the third, Middlebury’s Jon Broome’s lefty shot got past Tufts’ starting goalie Patton Watkins. The Jumbos closed out the quarter with a four-goal burst before adding three more to start the fourth quarter. Trailing 23-5 in the fourth, Giarrusso collected a hat-trick on a sweeping move to his left at 5:59. After a Middlebury goal at 5:47, Tufts capped the scoring on a man-down tally by Jake Gillespie with under a minute to go.
Schoenhut led all scorers with six goals, while Uppgren added a hat-trick with two helpers. Beau Wood and Leventhal each finished with three goals and an assist, while Conor Helfrich won 14-21 face-offs, collecting a game-high 10 groundballs. Watkins earned the win in net, making nine saves, while allowing four goals in 51:50 of work. Reserve goalie Alex Salazar played the final 8:10 for Tufts, making three saves and allowing two goals.
Giarrusso paced Middlebury with his hat trick, while three others scored single tallies. Brendan Gallagher won 10-21 face-offs, grabbing a team-best six groundballs. Nate Gaudio allowed 23 goals in 54:50, while stopping 16 shots. Gabe Weissmann finished the contest allowing one goal and making a save in the final 5:10. For the day, Middlebury was 2-10 in extra-man opportunities.