MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Freshman Ronan Jacoby of the No. 5-ranked Wesleyan University men's lacrosse team recorded three goals in the first quarter during a 13-5 victory over fourth-seeded Williams on Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the NESCAC Tournament at Jackson Field.
The top-seeded Cardinals (14-2, 9-1 NESCAC) shut out the Ephs (9-8, 6-4) in the third quarter, and only allowed the visitors to score one goal during the entire second half, as Wesleyan moves onto the NESCAC title game for the eighth time in school history. The unit hoisted the 2017 conference championship with a 9-8 win over Middlebury.
The Cardinals will look to defend their title tomorrow against No. 6-ranked Tufts at noon on Jackson Field in Middletown, Conn. Tufts, the No. 3 seed in the NESCAC Championships, defeated second-seeded Amherst, 20-12, to advance to the championship game. Wesleyan and Tufts met in the NESCAC Semifinals last season, with the Cardinals prevailing, 17-12. Sunday's game will mark the third meeting between the two rivals in the finals, with the Cardinals claiming a 14-10 win in 2009 before the Tufts responded in 2013 with an 11-6 victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Cardinals set the tone early, winning the first quarter, 5-1. With 10:23 left in the opening period, Ephs junior defender Jake Schuckman came up with a steal in the Cardinals' offensive zone, and then raced down the field, setting up sophomore Kevin Stump with a great scoring chance from the left side, but Cardinals sophomore goalie Otto Bohan turned the attempt aside.
- Wesleyan quickly turned its defense into offense, transitioning quickly down the field, and junior Zander Kotsen spotted Jacoby on the right doorstep, who found the back on the net with 10:12 remaining in the opening quarter.
- Williams generated the equalizer less than two minutes later, as freshman Cory Lund corralled a rebound from point-blank range in front of the net, and slammed it into the back of the net with 8:31 on the clock.
- The next five goals in the game came from the Cardinals, with four coming in the first. Senior Taylor Ghesquiere found Jacoby on the right side of the net, and the Glastonbury, Conn. native beat Ephs sophomore goalie George Peele top shelf during a man-up situation with 2:34 left in the first, pushing the lead up to 5-1.
- Wesleyan stayed hungry in the second, and senior midfielder Cole Turpin extended the lead to 6-1 one minute, two seconds, into the period with a crafty goal, bouncing a shot from distance into the back of the net.
- Williams needed to stay within striking distance heading into halftime, and the visitors certainly did that, tallying three of the final four goals in the half, including two in the final 22 seconds. Cory Lund scored with 22 seconds left on a hard drive to the net, and then sophomore defender William Sperry raced down the middle of the field in the final seconds and buried a shot with six seconds showing on the scoreboard, cutting the deficit to 7-4 going into intermission.
- The Cardinals did what they needed to do in the second half, which was regain control of the game, and the squad received a pair of goals in a span of seven seconds just over five minutes into the third. Ghesquiere gave the hosts an 8-4 advantage with 9:34 left in the frame, and then seven seconds later, junior attack Carter Hawthorne flung another shot past the goal line, assisted by senior Ryan Lynch.
- In the fourth quarter, Jacoby struck twice and Ghesquiere found the back of the net. Senior James McFarland scored the Ephs' only goal in the second half with 3:51 left, and then a goal by sophomore attack Tom Martello put Wesleyan up 13-5 and ended the scoring with 1:01 remaining.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Jacoby (five goals) and Hawthorne (two goals, three assists) each finished with five points for Wesleyan, and Ghesquiere recorded a hat trick, to go along with one assist. Senior Harry Stanton posted one goal and one assist. Stanton and sophomore Zach Zavalick each collected a team-high five ground balls for the Cardinals.
- Cory Lund led the way for the Ephs with a pair of goals, and freshman Alex Kitt and junior Jake Schuckman each grabbed four ground balls.
- Bohan was excellent in net, turning away 15-of-20 shots, and Peele gave up 13 goals on 26 shots for the Ephs.
- The Cardinals, who improved to 8-0 at home this year, held a 41-34 advantage in shots, including a 26-21 edge in shots on target, as they also led the ground-balls category, 29-23. The hosts committed 15 turnovers, and the visitors were charged with 12, as Wesleyan went 20-of-25 on clears and Williams was 9-of-10.
- The Cardinals improved to 5-0 all time against the Ephs in the NESCAC playoffs.