Quentin DellaFera '15 (#12, right side photo) caught a pass from Graham Macnab '14 and deposited a low shot into the Colby net with 0.1 seconds left in the game to lift Wesleyan to a 13-12 victory Sat., April 6. The goal, DellaFera's only one of the game and sixth of the year, capped a ferocious Wesleyan comeback as the Cardinals trailed the Mules, 11-7, with 10:54 to go in the fourth quarter but outscored the Mules, 6-1, over the closing 8:48. Wesleyan last led in the game, 2-1, in the first period.
Colby used a three-goal burst between the end of the first period and the middle of the second period to break a 3-3 tie and assume a 6-3 lead. Wesleyan closed to 6-5 but Colby got the final marker of the half for a 7-5 halftime edge. Colby took an 8-7 margin into the final 15 minutes. Another three-goal Mule burst gave the visitors the game's largest lead at 11-7. A pair of Wesleyan goals from Aidan Daniell '14 and David Murphy '15 (#15, left side photo), who finished with three goals and an assist to lead Wesleyan, 47 seconds apart made it an 11-9 game with 8:01 left. When Mike Giambanco '14 bounced one in at 4:48 for the Cardinals, it was an 11-10 game. Colby scored at 4:29 to push the lead back to two at 12-10. Wesleyan tied the game on Macnab's second goal (he finished with two goals and two assists) at 2:41 and the team-leading 16th goal of the season from Remy Lieberman '14 at 2:25.
Each team had possessions in the final minutes and it appeared Colby would get the last chance to break the tie after getting possession in its own end with :48 left and quickly clearing to the offensive zone and calling timeout with :35 on the clock. But Colby tried to penetrate from the right side and Wesleyan defender Lex Johnson '13 caused a Colby turnover and defender Mike Robinson '13 picked up his fourth ground ball of the game. He sent a bullet pass past midfield to Macnab on the fast break and Macnab spotted DellaFera open in front. DellaFerra speared the pass, moved central and scored one-on-one with a low shot past the Mule netminder.
Wesleyan starting goalie Mark Simmons '14 allowed 11 goals with six saves while playing 49 minutes. JD Dieterich '13 covered the cage for the final 11 minutes and allowed just one goal. Wesleyan limited Colby to one shot on net over the final 10:54 and ended the game with a 43-30 margin in total shots. Wesleyan also had a 35-22 margin in ground balls.
Wesleyan improved to 11-4 all-time vs. Colby and avenged an 11-5 loss in Waterville, Me. last year. Wesleyan has won the last six meetings of the teams in Middletown, three of them by one goal.
Up next for Wesleyan was a non-conference game at Eastern Connecticut that started Wed., April 10 and finished Thurs., April 11 due to a lightening storm. DellaFera led the Cardinals offense with a career-high five-point game, scoring four goals along with an assist in a 13-9 Cardinal victory. Wesleyan led by as many as eight goals in the second half before settling for the four-goal margin. The game was tied, 4-4, near the end of the first half when Brendan Hanley '13 gave Wesleyan the lead for good with a long-range blast with :21 remaining in the period. Hanley was fouled by two Warriors on the play and Wesleyan took advantage of the two penalties to score three man-advantage goals over the opening 1:30 of the second half for an 8-4 lead. At that point, the skies opened up, forcing a suspension of the game until the next day. Wesleyan began play the second day with four more goals during the third quarter for the game's largest lead at 12-4 with 3:09 to go in the third quarter. The Cardinals held a 13-5 lead early in the fourth quarter before Eastern netted the final four goals of the game. The Cardinals were near-perfect on clears with 15 in 16 tries and more than doubled up on the Warriors in the shot department, 49-23.
Wesleyan was on the road Sat., April 13 for a critical NESCAC matchup at Bowdoin. Wesleyan is ranked 19th nationally and fourth in New England while Bowdoin is fifth in the region and receiving votes nationally. As expected, the game came down to the wire as Wesleyan tied the score, 5-5, with :05.9 on the clock when Daniell connected from long range off a Macnab pass, sending the game into overtime. Wesleyan, despite losing the faceoff, had the first offense possession of the extra period and got off two shots, both saved, before Bowdoin got its first chance in the attack zone, and converted on a 20-yard shot from a soft angle on the right. Wesleyan had trailed, 3-1, at halftime before Giambanco netted the only goal of the third period to make it a 3-2 game heading into the final 15 minutes. Bowdoin struck first in the fourth quarter, but goals by Murphy and Daneill just 57 seconds apart evened the count at 4-4 with 8:35 left. The Polar Bears went ahead at the 4:12 mark before Daniell got the tying goal. Wesleyan outshot Bowdoin, 37-24. Simmons made six saves for the Cardinals. A 14-save effort by the Bowdoin netminder was key in the victory.
Wesleyan will host Trinity Tues., April 16 in a game that will be webcast starting at 4:30 p.m. in its next start.