After Claiming its First NESCAC Title May 3, Wesleyan Wins Its Opening NCAA Game for 4th Time

5.13.09

Jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair of goals by Jon Killeen '10 (two goals, two assist in the game) and one each from Jason Ben-Eliyahu '09 and Conor Malangone '11, Wesleyan held at least a three-goal cushion the rest of the way in defeating Tufts, 14-10, Sun., May 3 to secure the first NESCAC men's lacrosse title for Wesleyan in five championship game appearances. The game was played at Middlebury.

To see a video clip relating to Wesleyan's NESCAC tournament win, please click on the following link:
< http://www.youtube.com/user/wesleyan >

Wesleyan received an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament to earn its fourth trip to the NCAAs in the last five years. The team reached the national semi-finals in both 2006 and 2007. Wesleyan hosted Eastern Connecticut, champion of the Little East and a 10-9 overtime victor over U.S.M.M.A. in the first round, in a second-round game Sat., May 9. Wesleyan used a 4-0 run in the fourth quarter to come away with a 8-4 victory over the Warriors in the first meeting between the two teams since 2002.

In the NESCAC title game May 3, Russ Follansbee '09, who earned NESCAC Player of the Week as well as Inside Lacrosse's Nike National Division III Player of the Week honors, led the attack with three goals and three assists while Adam Kirk '09 had two goals, two assists and Lonny Blumenthal '10 three goals in the balanced offense. In goal, Mike Borrero '09 came up with 12 saves.

Wesleyan held its largest lead at 12-6 with 10:52 remaining in the third period on Kirk's unassisted tally. Tufts did get as close as 13-10 with 12:10 left in the contest, but the Cardinals held the Jumbos scoreless from that point and added a valuable insurance goal at 4:29 from Blumenthal.

In the opening NCAA game May 9, Wesleyan and Eastern were within a goal or two throughout the first three periods and went into the fourth quarter deadlocked at 4-4. John Froats '12, named NESCAC Rookie of the Year this week, put the Cardinals ahead for good with a soft bouncer at the 13:55 mark. The lead stayed at one until Jon Killeen '10, who was NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2007, scored his second goal of the contest at 4:45 on a nice pass from Jason Ben-Eliyahu '09, set up by a caused turnover and ground ball by Spike Malangone '09. Malangone had been named first-team all-NESCAC for the third year in a row during the week as was Follansbee, who closed out his hat trick at 3:26, finishing off a fast break after a pass from Dan Latzman '09. Follansbee, with a team-leading 69 points this season, is just two shy of becoming the fifth Cardinals to amass 200 career points. Wesleyan's final goal came from Jeff Strittmatter '09, who was inserted as fresh legs to help the Cardinals control the ball in the closing minutes. He beat a double team and went in alone to tuck in only his second goal of the season at the 2:14 mark.

In the Wesleyan net, Borrero had a strong game with 11 saves, giving him a .733 save percentage for the afternoon.

As Wesleyan extended its NCAA tournament record to 6-3 while winning its opening NCAA game for the fourth time, it brings about a third meeting in 2009 with Middlebury, a 15-11 winner over St. Lawrence, for an NCAA quarter-final at home Wed., May 13. Wesleyan has beaten the Panthers twice this year, the only two losses for Middlebury all season. The game, slated for 4 p.m., will be webcast and details for watching the contest are on the athletics home page under "Webcasts."

Additional honors came in for five Wesleyan lacrosse members from the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA). Both Follansbee and Spike Malangone were named to the Divison III first-team while Blumenthal and Froats made the second team. For the fifth time in his career, head coach John Raba was named Coach of the Year.