Wesleyan improved to 5-0 all-time vs. SUNY Maritime by scoring the game's opening five goals, then adding the final 13 tallies in rolling to an 18-1 decision Wed., March 20. Wesleyan, now 4-1 on the season, returned to action Sat., March 23 in a pivotal NESCAC matchup at Middlebury, ranked 14th nationally and second in New England. Wesleyan is ranked sixth in the region. The game came right down to the wire with Middlebury scoring the deciding goal with 1:03 remaining to secure a 7-6 win.
David Murphy '15 assisted on three of Wesleyan first six goals and finished the game with five points on a goal and four assists vs. Maritime. The Cardinals led, 6-1, after the first quarter and carried a 12-1 margin into halftime. It was 15-1 through three periods en route to the 18-1 final. Matt Prezioso '15 (photo insert upper left) and Remy Lieberman '14 (#13, photo insert lower left) both had a hat trick for Wesleyan while Nate Ryan '15 and Greg Pietroforte '16 both added a pair of markers. Wesleyan had eight other single goal scorers and collected 13 assists as a team. Mike Giambanco '14 chipped in with a goal and two helpers.
Maritime picked up its loan goal with 3:00 left in the first period. Starting goalie Mark Simmons '14 played the bulk of the first half, picking up four saves. JD Dieterich '13 played the final 32 minutes and also had four stops. Wesleyan generated a 58-17 margin in shots and had a 46-25 edge in ground balls, led by Mike Robinson '13 (#1, main photo) with seven. Robinson also had a game-high four caused turnovers. The Cardinals enjoyed 14 faceoff wins to nine by the Privateers.
At Middlebury, Wesleyan never led but came back to tie the game five time. The only two-goal lead for the Panthers came at 6:01 of the third period. Wesleyan scored its only back-to-back goals of the contest at 2:26, then at 14:00 of the fourth period to knot the count, 5-5. Prezioso got his second tally of the game to make it 5-4, as he took a pass from Murphy and put home his ninth of the year. When Aidan Daniell '14 turned Giambanco's pass during a man-up chance into a low shot from 15 yards out on the right, he netted his eighth marker of the year.
Again, the Panthers got the edge three minutes later, but the Cardinals responded as Lieberman corraled a pass from Sam Stanton '13 after Stanton got the grounder off a rebound of a Ryan shot, and tucked it in from close in front at 4:38 to make it a 6-6 game. Then while trying to kill off one of many penalties called against it in the contest, Wesleyan lost control of the ball near midfield, and it resulted in a Middlebury fast-break and a man-advantage goal at 1:03. Wesleyan had killed off nine short-handed situations prior, including a two-man-down situation for a full minute in the first period and another 40 seconds of two-man down in the third quarter. Middlebury had just two penalties called in the game. Middlebury controlled the ensuing faceoff and Wesleyan never had another chance on attack.
Simmons was a standout in goal, making 15 saves. Dieterich had to play a little over a minute when Simmons sustained penalties and the defense did a great job preventing the Panthers from launching a shot on goal. One of those was the one-minute, two-man-down predicament.
Up next for the squad is a trip to Amherst Wed., March 27, where the Cardinals can clinch their seventh outright Little Three crown in the last 13 years. On four of the other six occasions, Wesleyan shared the title in a three-way tie.
(photos of Prezioso & Lieberman courtesy of Shoaib Tareen P'15)