Panthers Prevail, Prevent Gophers from Advancing

Panthers Prevail, Prevent Gophers from Advancing

10-6 Loss in NCAAs Brings Down Curtain on 14-4 Campaign

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — If Goucher was even remotely overwhelmed over its inaugural appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs, it didn't show.

And if the Gophers were even the slightest bit intimidated because their opponent was one of the most storied Division III programs in the nation, one couldn't tell.

They stepped onto Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium against Middlebury today in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship and battled for 60 minutes — much of the time on fairly even terms. Only two goals separated the two combatants when the game clock showed 5:00 remaining, but the Panthers (12-5) were able to score twice down the stretch to emerge with a 10-6 triumph over head coach Kyle Hannan's Gophers.

"I'm certainly disappointed that we lost, but absolutely couldn't br more proud of this team for what it accomplished this season and the effort it put forth today against Middlebury," Hannan commented following the game.

The Panthers outshot the Gophers, 11-4, in the first quarter and led 2-0 after 15 minutes. Matt Lynch (Ivyland, Pa./LaSalle College) had a hand in all four of the goals Goucher tallied in the second period as he stuck a pair of unassisted goals and was awarded assists on an even-strength goal by Jacob Fratella (Wilmington, Del./Brandywine) and an extra-man goal by Rory Averett (Ivyland, Pa./Council Rock North).

Lynch's goal with 5:17 left to play before halftime created a 4-4 tie that held up until the Panthers scored twice in a span of six seconds midway through the third quarter to open up a 6-4 advantage. Middlebury went up 7-4 on Bart Witmer's unassisted goal with 3:45 remaining in the period, but the Gophers closed to within 7-5 when Averett set up a goal by Kyle Boncaro (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) with :56 showing on the clock.

Another Boncaro-from-Averett goal 6:16 into the fourth quarter brought Goucher, which earned its spot in the Division III playoffs as champion of the Landmark Conference, to within 8-6, but Middlebury, which was making its 13th consecutive and 14th overall appearance in the tournament, opened up a little breathing room when David Hild notched his third goal of the contest with 4:31 remaining and Tim Cahill scored an extra-man goal with 2:22 left to play.

Averett's goal in the second quarter that evened the score at 3-3 was the sophomore attackman's 49th of the season, leaving him just one shy of the school record established by Phil Anthony in 2002. Boncaro also came up one point short of matching Anthony's single-season record of 69 points, also from 2002.

The Panthers finished with a 44-28 edge in shots. Senior Chris Stricklin (Germantown, Md./Seneca Valley), who started all 18 games this season in goal for Goucher, was credited with 14 saves.

With the win, Middlebury, which won the third of its three straight NCAA Division III national titles in 2002, advances to face Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the second round on Saturday.