Middlebury used a staunch zone defense that held Amherst to under half of its scoring average, in an 8-7 win on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. The 18th-ranked Lord Jeffs, averaging over 15 goals a game before today’s contest, saw their five-game win streak end as the Panthers improved to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in NESCAC play. As the Panthers reached the midway point of their season, they have faced five nationally-ranked teams in their first eight contests. Both teams return to action with road NESCAC games on Wednesday, April 2, as Middlebury travels to Hamilton and Amherst (6-2, 2-2) faces Wesleyan.
After Jack Rautiola opened the game with a goal for Middlebury, the Jeffs rallied for a pair of scores, as Quinn Moroney set-up both tallies for a 2-1 Amherst lead in the first quarter. Rautiola followed the two Amherst goals tying the score on a nice dodge through the Amherst defense at 4:10.
The Panthers took a 4-2 lead in the second quarter before Quinn Moroney set-up Kane Haffey at 10:11 on a behind-the-X feed. Under a minute later, Middlebury’s Stephen Seymour scored his second goal of the game off a quick-stick pass from Brian Ayers for a 5-3 lead. The Panthers built their biggest lead at 6-3 when Jon Broome contorted himself on the Amherst doorstep, diving in for the goal with 2:32 left in the half.
Amherst capped the first-half scoring as Devin Acton netted an upper-corner shot with 20.9 seconds in the half.
Trailing 6-4 after intermission, the Jeffs scored the next two goals to tie the game at six apiece. The duo of Haffey and Quinn Moroney followed their earlier exploits with two-more quick-stick connections, knotting the game with 9:14 left in the third.
Broome gave the hosts a fourth-quarter lead after the Jeffs turned the ball over. George Curtis scooped up a groundball and fed Broome for the go-ahead tally at 12:00. Amherst tied the game at 8:18 as Quinn Moroney deked a feed and put a point-blank shot past Panther goalie Nate Gaudio.
With the score tied at 7-7, the Panthers forced another Amherst turnover. Darric White set-up the game-winner, feeding Rautiola for a transition goal at 7:22, as Middlebury held on for an 8-7 win over the Jeffs.
Rautiola’s hat-trick paced Middlebury as Seymour and Broome each netted two goals. Ayers added two helpers, as Gaudio earned the win in net, stopping 14 shots.
Quinn Moroney led all scorers with six points on five assists and one goal, while Haffey finished with three goals. Duncan Morrissey won 12-15 face-offs and grabbed a game-best eight groundballs, while Amherst goalie Greg Majno made seven saves in defeat.