Graham Macnab '14 (#3, right side photo) pumped in a career-high-tying four goals, including the deciding tally with :46 left, to bring Wesleyan back from a 7-3 deficit in the second quarter en route to a 9-8 NESCAC semifinal victory at top-seeded and host Middlebury Sat., May 4. With the win, the third by the Cardinals on consecutive Saturday's by one goal after trailing by at least three goals before halftime, Wesleyan appeared in its sixth NESCAC Championship game and second against Tufts, which knocked off Conn. College, 14-11, in its semifinal contest. When Wesleyan and Tufts met for the first time in the NESCAC finals, its also took place at Middlebury and Wesleyan came away a 14-10 winner in 2009. Also in like fashion, Wesleyan was the #4 seed in both that tournament and this year, and Tufts, the #3 seed in both. In 2013, however, it was Tufts prevailing, 11-6, to lock up its fourth consecutive conference crown and automatic NCAA berth. Wesleyan was still in the running for an at-large bid with its 13-5 record but the NCAA ignored the NESCAC when it came to at-large choices. Wesleyan, Middlebury and Conn were all left behind.
Matching his four-goal output during a runaway 18-1 victory over Lasell earlier this year, Macnab gave Wesleyan its only lead of the contest vs. Middlebury with an unassisted tally in the final minute, his team-leading 24th goal of the campaign. He curled in front from behind the net on the right and swept in a shot for the 9-8 lead. Middlebury held a 4-1 edge after one period and built up a 7-3 margin just 3:44 before halftime. Wesleyan narrowed the difference to 7-5 as Sam Stanton '13 used a Middlebury turnover to convert a fast break at 1:52 before Aidan Daniell '14 added his 20th of the year and second of the game with :24 to go before intermission.
Wesleyan evened the count at 7-7 with a pair of goals in the opening 1:19 of the third quarter as David Murphy '15 scored a man-up goal, his 17th of the year, and Macnab made it a hat trick. The Panthers regained the lead at 6:49 but Wesleyan countered with Matt Prezioso's '15 unassisted marker at 2:43, making it 8-8 heading into the final 15 minutes.
Wesleyan peppered the Middlebury net in the final stanza, outshooting the Panthers, 16-4, in the period (52-30 for the game), but eight saves by the Middlebury keeper, who ended the game with 18, kept the score even. JD Dieterich '13, making his first start of the year, came through with eight stops for the Cardinals.
After Macnab gave Wesleyan its initial lead of the contest, Middlebury got control of the ball 10 seconds later following a battle for the ensuing faceoff that resulted in the ball going out-of-bounds. Wesleyan called timeout, and Middlebury added its own timeout with :17 left. The Panthers set up a final shot from the right side after a dodge, and the ball entered the cage behind Dieterich, but not until after the final horn sounded, ending the game.
In the NESCAC Championship game Sun., May 5 at Middlebury, Mike Giambanco '14 (#21, left side photo by Will Costello) picked up two goals and three assists as he contributed to five of the Cardinals six tallies. He put Wesleyan ahead at 10:45 of the first quarter with a hard bouncer from a sharp angle on the left. Then a high shot from Daniell off a Remy Lieberman '14 feed on a man-up situation at 3:30 broke a 1-1 tie. But it was the last lead of the day for the Cardinals. Tufts scored two quick goals in the final 20 seconds of the first period and added another early in the second quarter for a 4-2 lead. Though a Quentin DellaFera '15 goal at 11:30, also man-up, made it 4-3 with the assist to Giambanco, Tufts pulled out to a 6-3 halftime lead. The lead varied between two and three goals into the middle of the fourth quarter. The Jumbos got the games last two goals, one a misconnection on a Wesleyan pass to keeper Dieterich that found its way in the Cardinal net, for the 11-6 final. Dieterich ended the game with nine saves.
When the all-NESCAC team was announced Thurs., May 2, Wesleyan had two first-team selections as defender Mike Robinson '13, who was a second-team pic in 2011, and Brendan Hanley '13, a second-team honoree in 2012, made the 2013 squad.