Men's Lax Advances to NESCAC Semifinals for 11th Time Behind 10-8 Win over Conn - To Face Amherst
Meeting for the second time in four days, Wesleyan and Conn. College were matched up as NESCAC tournament quarterfinal combatants Sat., April 26 with #2-seeded Wesleyan coming away with a tight 10-8 victory over #7-seeded Conn. Four days ago, Wesleyan rolled to a 16-7 win, but today was a very different story.
Matt Prezioso '15 (#2, photo by Tony Vazquez P'14) paced the Cardinal attack with two goals and three assists as Wesleyan trailed early, 1-0 and 2-1, but took its first lead, 3-2, at 3:59 of the first quarter when Graham Macnab '14 put home a long-range, low bouncer from a slight angle on the left off a pass from Aidan Daniell '14. Lyle Mitchell '16 made it 4-2 when he converted a pass from Jackson Arnold '16 with another long bouncer to start the second period, that coming with an extra man at 13:51. Three of the first four Cardinal goals came during a Conn penalty. But the Camels responded with two goals to finish out the second-period scoring, making it a 4-4 tie at intermission.
Wesleyan reassumed the lead with two goals to begin the second half with Quentin DellaFera '15 completing a fast break as he was wide open in front of the Conn cage, receiving a pass from Prezioso at 12:58. Less than two minutes later, Prezioso turned a Macnab feed into his 33rd goal of the year for the 6-4 Wesleyan edge. Again, Conn came back to tie the score, 6-6, at the 5:54 mark. Before the period ended, both DellaFera and Prezioso struck again for Wesleyan, giving the Cardinals the lead for good as Wesleyan took an 8-6 lead into the fourth quarter. Prezioso leads Wesleyan with 34 tallies this year while DellaFera has 30. When Niall Devaney '16 made good on a long-range shot from a Prezioso pass at 10:43 of the final period, Wesleyan had the game's largest lead at 9-6. Conn didn't quit and responded with two goals in a span of just 17 seconds midway through the frame, to make it 9-8 with 6:49 left.
A very scrambling final six minutes featured up-and-down action by both teams but two costly procedure penalties by the Camels in the final two minutes helped Wesleyan run off much of the closing minutes, while adding another Mitchell goal with :37 left, assisted by Prezioso, as Conn was chasing the ball and left the net open with the Cardinals up a man.
Wesleyan generated an overwhelming 44-23 edge in total shots but only put 19 shots on cage while Conn hit the mark 17 times. Wesleyan keeper Justin Schick '15 finished with nine saves but also caused three turnovers by intercepting Conn centering passes.
Wesleyan will be making its 11th appearance in the NESCAC semifinals, to be hosted by Tufts, the top seed and a convincing winner over Colby in its quarterfinal matchup. Wesleyan will take on #3-seeded Amherst in its semifinal as the Lord Jeffs downed Bowdoin, while Tufts goes against #4-seeded Williams, a winner over Middlebury in its first-round contest. The semifinals are Sat., May 3. The championship game is slated for Sun., May 4.