Wesleyan scored four straight goals during the second quarter, two of them by John Froats '12, to break a 1-1 tie with Amherst, ranked third nationally in Division III, and go on for a 6-3 NESCAC win Wed., March 28. The victory, coupled with an opening-day 9-4 conquering of Williams, gave Wesleyan an outright Little Three title in 2012.
Wesleyan drew first blood with the only goal of the first period as Teddy Citrin '12 began his hat trick by working around from behind the net on the left and finding room in front to put the Cardinals ahead at 5:48 of the stanza. Amherst tied the game at 10:56 of the second quarter but the Cardinals rattled off four in a row in a span of 8:25 to take a commanding 5-1 lead into halftime. Froats got the run started with a low shot inside the left post past the Amherst keeper. Max Landow '12 set up Froats' goal at 8:56 with the first of his two assists on the day. Citrin then netted his second goal on a fast break after catching a pass from long-pole middie Brendan Hanley '13 to go in one-on-one with the goalie and beat him high, making it 3-1 at 7:32. It was 4-1 after Froats connected with Landow again at 4:11 after catching a pass in traffic and scoring after a quick spin. Landow put the finishing touches on the run with his third point of the game, making good with his shot from the right side off a feed by Aidan Daniell '14.
Amherst got the only marker of the third period and the score stayed 5-2 for more than 22 minutes until the Lord Jeffs narrowed the margin to two at 4:11 of the final period. Amherst drew three penalties in the final three minutes and Wesleyan cashed in on a two-man-up situation at 2:14 when Citrin started with the ball low on the left and raced past his defender to reach the front of the net before the goalie could recover as he was out of the net guarding against a pass. It was the team-leading 12th goal of the season for Citrin, and accounted for the final 6-3 score.
As they did in the game a year ago, the Cardinals mounted a substantial margin in total shots, holding the Lord Jeffs to 14 attempts while taking 32 of their own today. Last year, Wesleyan generated a 45-25 edge in shots. Wesleyan goalie Grant Covington '12 made five saves as Amherst put just eight shots on net over the 60 minutes, a credit to the Cardinals' defense, led by the likes of Mike Robinson '13, who had four caused turnovers and a pair of ground balls. Wesleyan was one of the top teams nationally in Division III for goal-against average, ranked seventh with a 4.80 figure to begin the week.
Ahead for Wesleyan was a meeting with another nationally ranked foe, Endicott, ranked 16th, on Sat., March 31. Renewing their rivalry after a four-year hiatus, Wesleyan defeated Endicott for the eighth time in nine all-time meetings with an 11-4 victory. It was the third straight triumph for the Cardinals against a nationally ranked opponent with this game on the heels of the win over Amherst and the 7-3 defeat of #17 Middlebury a week ago.
Daniell got Wesleyan off to a solid start by netting the opening three Cardinal goals to up his season total to nine. He also added a fourth-quarter assist for a four-point game. Also with a four-point afternoon for Wesleyan was DJ Bernatavitz '12 with a goal and three assists. In the Wesleyan net, Covington made a career-high 19 saves while allowing just three goals during his 55:46 between the pipes. He is ranked in the top five nationally for both save percentage (now 75.8) and goals-against average (now 4.06). Covington posted 17 saves in the win over Middlebury March 24 for his previous high game for saves. Wesleyan is one of the top teams in Division III for scoring defense, yielding just 31 goals in seven games for a 4.43 goals-against average. Only once in seven starts has an opponent scored more than five goals against Wesleyan during regulation play.
After Daniell spotted the Cardinals a 3-1 edge at the 8:18 mark of the second quarter with three long-range bouncers, Matt Prezioso '15 added another bouncer from the outside to give the Cardinals a 4-1 margin at halftime. Wesleyan then outscored Endicott, 4-1, in the third period to push the advantage to 8-2 after 45 minutes of play. Benatavitz was the key on offense for the Cardinals during the frame with a goal and two helpers while Froats had a goal and an assist on his way to a three-point game as he also assisted on Daniell's second marker early in the second quarter.
After the Gulls cut the difference to 8-3 to open the fourth period, Wesleyan ran the margin to 11-3 on goals by Graham Macnab '14, his second of the game for a three-point performance, Nate Ryan '15 and David Murphy '15 in a span of just 2:55. Endicott got the final marker with 1:10 left, netting a man-up goal.
Next up for Wesleyan, now ranked 15th nationally, was another non-conference home game vs. SUNY Farmingdale Wed., April 4. Wesleyan recovered from a slow start to produce a 9-4 victory. Covington was his usual sharp self, making nine saves while yielding just three goals over his 45 minutes of play. Froats was the trigger man on offense as he scored a pair of goals in the final minute of the second quarter to erase a 3-1 deficit. Wesleyan went on to score six straight in the third period for an 8-0 run. The first three goals came in a span of just 1:34 as Brendan Hanley '13, Citrin and Daniell got the job done. Froats then ripped off another pair and Remy Liberman '14 put the finishing touches on the flurry with a goal with just :16 to go in the frame. Farmingdale ended its scoring drought after 34:17 with the only tally of the fourth period. Mark Simmons '14 minded the net for the final 15 minutes and picked up two saves.
Wesleyan returns to NESCAC action Sat., April 7, trekking to Colby for a battle with the Mules. The game will feature LiveStats and a webcast.