Max Landow '12 (#15, main photo by Mitch Lieberman P'14) scored his third goal of the contest just 29 seconds into sudden-victory overtime off a pass to the middle by DJ Bernatavitz '12 (#21, photo insert lower left) to make Wesleyan a 9-8 instant winner over visiting and fifth-ranked nationally Middlebury Sat., March 19.
Wesleyan's Joe Del Visco '12 (#17, photo insert lower middle) won his 13th faceoff in 19 attempts in the contest as Pete Modera '11 scooped up the ground ball, giving the Cardinals the opening possession of overtime. Wesleyan then called timeout with 3:49 on the clock. Bernatavitz began with the ball on the right side, eventually setting up Landow for his team-leading 12th goal of the season only 18 seconds after the timeout. Bernatavitz assisted on each of Landow's three goals, the first two coming 3:38 apart early in the second quarter, giving Wesleyan a 4-2 lead at the time.
Though Middlebury began the day's scoring at 7:45 of the first quarter, the lead lasted just 35 seconds as Teddy Citrin '12 evened the count at 7:10. Wesleyan never trailed the rest of the way, leading by as many as three goals, 5-2, and again, 6-3, which proved to be the halftime score. The game was tied three times, at 2-2, 7-7 and 8-8. A goal by LPM Gabe Kelley '11 on a bouncer from long range with 11:29 to go gave Wesleyan its last lead before overtime, 8-7.
With the score 6-5 in the third period after two Middlebury goals in the opening five minutes, Citrin's third goal of the contest and 11th of the year put Wesleyan up, 7-5, at 5:17 of the third period as he converted a Bernatavitz pass with a chest-high shot from the left side. Bernatavitz ended the game with a goal and four assists for five points, giving him four goals and six assists on the year.
Surprisingly the teams played the final 9:41 of regulation scoreless, the longest period of time without a goal in the game. The 7:15 played to begin the game before the Panthers broke the scoreless tie had been the longest gap.
Each team had its chances in the final 9:41. Wesleyan goalie Grant Covington '12 (#35, photo insert lower left) made three of his 15 saves during the stretch while Middlebury had one stop and was aided by a crossbar when Citrin rang a shot squarely off the top of the goal with 6:50 left. Wesleyan got stellar defensive work from Mike Robinson '13, who collected a game-high four caused turnovers, all by stripping the ball from Panther attackers.
Wesleyan avenged a 12-5 setback at Middlebury during the 2010 regular-season encounter. The Cardinals took an 8-7 decision in Middletown during the regular-season meeting of the teams in 2009. Between that, Wesleyan won, 15-14 in overtime at Middlebury in the 2009 NESCAC tournament semi-finals en route to a tournament title. The teams then face each other in Middletown during the NCAA Division III tournament that year with the Panthers prevailing, 13-5. Middlebury holds a 24-17-1 overall lead on the series but Wesleyan has taken six of the last 11.
LaxMagazine.com has written a feature story about Wesleyan's win over Middlebury and other commentary. Wesleyan has cracked the top-20 national ranking for the first time this season, holding the #13 slot on the USILA Division III poll. The story is available by clicking < here >.
Wesleyan returned to action Tues., March 22 with a visit to the Merchant Marine Academy. The game was played at Centre Island Town Park in Bayville, NY. The Cardinals took a little while to get its attack cranked, tied 3-3 afrer one period, but then scored four goals in the opening six minutes of the second quarter for a 7-3 lead. An 8-0 third frame, combined with the opeoing five goals of the fourth put Wesleyan ahead, 20-4, en route to a 21-8 triumph.
Eleven of the Cardinals' 21 goals came from freshmen, led by Aiden Daniell '14 with four. Chris Walsh '14 added three while Graham Macnab '14, Ian Vazquez '14, Remy Lieberman '14 and Joe Porcelli '14 alll added a tally. Among the returnees, Bernatavitz and Chris Michael '11 each had a pair. Covington made six stops over three periods while giving up four goals. JD Dieterich '13 played the final stanza with two saves.
Cardinals then traveled to Bates Sat., March 26, to take on a Bobcats team that has been surprisingly tough on the Cardinals since 2003. Bates is one of only two NESCAC squads, joining Middlebury, to ouscore Wesleyan over the last nine meetings heading into the 2011 campaign. This time in Lewiston, Bates overcame a 4-2 shortfall in the second period and pulled out to an 8-4 lead in the third stanza behind a 6-0 run, then ran away for a 12-7 upset victory.
First-half goals by Landow, Citrin, Gnall and Froats help spot the Cardinals a 4-2 edge with 8:46 remaining in the second quarter. Bates got three goals in a span of 4:07 to take a 5-4 lead into intermission, then opened the third period with a 3-0 run in the first 3:38. Citrin and Conor Malangone '11 got Wesleyan as close as 8-6, then 9-7, before the Bobcats netted the final three goals of the game to wrap up the victory. Covington was busy in the Cardinal net making 16 stops, another career high. Wesleyan managed to put just 12 of its 29 shots on goal in the game while Bates was on target for 28 of its 37 attempts.
The Cardinals have a week to regroup from their first setback before taking on undefeated, top-ranked and defending national champion Tufts Sat., April 2.