LITTLE THREE CHAMPS! No. 4 Wesleyan Edges No. 7 Amherst in NESCAC Thriller, 12-11

Photo by Steve McLaughlin
Photo by Steve McLaughlin

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Trailing by two in the fourth quarter, the fourth-ranked Wesleyan University men's lacrosse team rallied down the stretch as Carter Hawthorne '20 scored the game-winner with 2:24 remaining on the clock to lift the Cardinals to a 12-11 victory over No. 7 Amherst College in a NESCAC thriller Wednesday night on Citrin Field. With the win, Wesleyan claimed the Little Three title outright for the second consecutive season.

Freshman Ronan Jacoby led the way for the Cardinals (8-1, 5-0 NESCAC) with four points on three goals and an assist on the game-winner to Hawthorne. Colin Minicus and Dylan Peabody each registered four points for the Mammoths (8-2, 4-1), who saw their unbeaten conference record come to an end.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Wesleyan got on the board first with a goal from Jacoby just 1:25 into play. However, the Cardinals were held scoreless the rest of the quarter as Amherst scored twice to take a 2-1 lead entering the second.
  • Another Amherst goal at the 13:31 mark of the second quarter stretched its run to three unanswered before the Cardinals retaliated. A goal from Christian Barker '19 at the 11:38 mark sparked a 3-0 Wesleyan run to give the home team a 4-3 lead with 6:44 to play in the half.
  • Jack Norton scored his first of three goals with just :37 remaining, but Ryan Lynch '18 won the ensuing faceoff and sprinted down the field, scoring just six seconds later to give the home team a 5-4 advantage at the break.
  • It was all Amherst early on in the second half. The Mammoths took advantage of a two-minute un-releasable penalty and scored twice at the 13:51 and 12:54 marks. Shortly after, Minicus found Peabody in the middle of the defense as he quickly fired a shot over his left shoulder and behind the back for an impressive score to cap off a 4-0 run as Amherst went ahead, 8-5.
  • However, Wesleyan closed out the quarter with goals from Cole Turpin '19 and Zander Kotsen '19 to cut the deficit to one entering the fourth.
  • In the final 15 minutes of play, the Cardinals scored five goals en route to the victory.
  • Christian Barker '19 evened the score at 8-8 at the 10:13 mark but Norton scored just nine seconds later and Jimmy McAfee scored 15 seconds after that to give the Mammoths a 10-8 lead with 9:47 on the clock.
  • Wesleyan responded once again with a 3-0 run in three minutes and 20 seconds as Hawthorne put the home team ahead, 11-10, with 5:25 to play.
  • Norton tied the game at 11-11 with 3:00 on the clock, but Hawthorne received a pass from Jacoby and sent a shot into the back of the net just 36 seconds later to give Wesleyan the lead.
  • Amherst forced a Wesleyan turnover with 1:05 remaining and had two shots at net in the closing seconds, but one was blocked and the other was saved by Otto Bohan '20 with eight seconds remaining as the Cardinals sealed the impressive victory.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Nine players factored into the scoring for Wesleyan with Jacoby (3), Barker (2) and Hawthorne (2) scoring multiple goals. Bohan was impressive in net for the Cardinals, stopping 19-of-28 shots he faced to improve his record to 6-0.
  • Norton and Evan Wolf each scored three goals for Amherst and Dylan Finazzo picked up 14 ground balls. Despite the loss, goalie Chad Simons was great between the posts as he made 12 saves on 24 attempts.
  • Amherst held a 44-35 edge in ground balls and 19-27 lead in face-offs.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • The Cardinals defeated Williams in the 2018 season-opener, 9-8, to secure their second-consecutive Little Three title and 12th overall.
  • Since the 2001 season, Wesleyan has won nine Little Three titles outright. Amherst has four during that span, while Williams has just one. Four others resulted in a three-way tie.
  • Dating back to the 2016 season, the Cardinals have now won 18 straight home games.

UP NEXT:

  • Wesleyan returns to action Saturday, April 7 for another difficult NESCAC matchup against No. 3 Tufts on the road. The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.