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Wesleyan’s Title Defense Ends in Third Round Thriller, Falls to No. 7 Amherst, 16-13

Photo by Brian Foley
Photo by Brian Foley

AMHERST, Mass. – The defending national champion Wesleyan men's lacrosse team saw its title defense end Saturday afternoon as the 10th-ranked Cardinals lost a thriller to No. 7 Amherst in the Third Round of the NCAA Division III Championships, 16-13.

In a game that went back-and-forth throughout, the Mammoths prevailed in the end as they outscored Wesleyan 6-4 in the fourth quarter. Wesleyan was led by Zander Kotsen's four points (3 G, 1 A) as it finishes the year with a 13-4 record. Matt Solberg scored four goals and assisted on another as Amherst improved to 16-3 and advanced to the Quarterfinals where it will face the winner of No. 3 Tufts and Stevenson on Wednesday, May 15.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Amherst came out strong, scoring the first two goals within the first eight minutes of play.
  • At the 4:54 mark, Wesleyan took advantage of a man-up opportunity for its first score of the game. The Cardinals then scored twice in the final minute, including a goal with just four seconds in the quarter, to take a 3-2 lead after one.
  • Both offenses came alive in the second quarter as they totaled 10 goals.
  • The quarter went back-and-forth throughout, with the largest run just two goals. There were two ties, but the Cardinals never trailed and with only nine seconds on the clock, Kotsen put the visitors on top at the break, 8-7.
  • The Mammoths opened the second half on a 3-0 run which started with two consecutive goals from Colin Minicus in a span of 30 seconds.
  • Kotsen cut the deficit to one, 10-9, at the 5:14 mark of the third and neither team would score the rest of the quarter.
  • Kotsen evened the score just 45 seconds into the fourth and a goal from Christian Barker just over a minute later put Wesleyan on top by one.
  • Amherst responded with a 4-0 run, essentially putting the game away. The home team scored two goals just six seconds apart to lead 14-11 with 6:14 to play.
  • After a score from Tom Martello ended the run and cut the deficit to two with 4:29 to play, the home team answered with two consecutive goals to seal the win.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Ronan Jacoby scored three goals for Wesleyan, while Barker finished with three points (2 G, 1 A). Chad Malinowski led the team with six ground balls and two caused turnovers, and Thomas Clejan and Colin Malarchuk caused two turnovers as well. Goalie Otto Bohan made 13 saves in net.
  • Minicus and Jackson Herrick each scored three goals for Amherst and Evan Wolf totaled four points (2 G, 2 A). Defensively, James Crovatto caused four turnovers and goalie Gib Versfeld made 12 stops.
  • Wesleyan held a slight edge in shots, 43-42, and both teams turned the ball over 14 times.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • Saturday's game was the first-ever meeting between Wesleyan and Amherst in the NCAA Tournament.
  • With an assist today, Christian Barker became the fifth player in program history to record 100 career assists. He concludes his career ranked eighth on the all-time points list with 187 (87 goals, 100 assists).
  • Carter Hawthorne will finish his career as the third-highest scorer in Wesleyan men's lacrosse history. The senior, who missed several games this year due to injury, had 271 career points on 107 goals and 164 assists. He is also the programs all-time assist leader and owns the record for most assist in a single-season (66).
  • In the past three seasons, Wesleyan has posted an incredible 52-9 (.852) overall record with a NESCAC Championship, three NCAA Tournament appearances, two Final Four appearances, and a National Championship. The team's record in the NCAA Tournament during that stretch is 9-2.