MIDDLEBURY, Vermont – Middlebury goalkeeper Will Ernst made a dozen saves in goal to lead the Panthers to a 5-4 win over Connecticut College in the season-opener for both teams. Sixth-ranked Middlebury has now won 11-straight at home, after a 10-0 mark on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium a year ago. The Panthers return to action on Tuesday at Endicott, while the Camels host Vassar on Wednesday.
After a scoreless first quarter, Conn. took a 1-0 lead with 13:10 remaining in the second when Ross Thompson scored from 12 yards out. Middlebury answered less than three minutes later when Joseph Zelkowitz caused a turnover, picked up the ground ball and raced to the other end of the field before finding the back of the net.
The Panthers went up 2-1 with 7:05 left in the quarter when Kyle Soroka fed Jack Gould for a man-up goal. The Camels evened the game at the 2:35 mark when Pierce DellaFera found Tucker Mscisz for the first of his two goals on the afternoon.
Mscisz' second tally opened the second half, as he quickly turned and fired a low shot in the back of the net at the 13:07 mark to put his team on top, 3-2. Middlebury scored the only other goal of the quarter with 3:32 remaining when Sean Carroll converted on a quick-stick shot after a dish from Gould to knot the game at 3-3.
The Panthers took a 4-3 lead at the 8:24 mark of the fourth quarter when Henry Riehl converted after a pass from Parker Lawlor. The Camels answered less than two minutes later when PJ Kelleher ripped a shot into the back of the net with an assist from Thompson.
Conn. looked to regain the lead with 4:40 remaining with a 1:00 man-up opportunity. Ernst came up big on a shot from Kelleher cutting to the goal before stuffing him again seconds later. Following a Camel timeout, John Cunningham (pictured) made a nice feed to Mscisz, but his bid for a third goal was denied by another spectacular save by Ernst.
Middlebury cleared the ball and took time off the clock before Conn. regained possession in the final minute. A shot went high with 10 seconds left before the Panthers called a timeout. The Camels had one last chance to tie the game, but Ernst was again equal to the task, thwarting a great shot from Derek Bertolini as time expired.
Riehl led Middlebury with two goals, Gould finished with a goal and an assist, while Lawlor had two helpers. John Jackson won 6-12 face-offs with four ground balls, while seven different Panthers caused turnovers.
Mscisz scored twice for the Camels, with a goal and an assist from Thompson. Ben Parens won 6-12 face-offs and had four ground balls, Bobby Bleistein scooped four off the ground to go along with 12 saves, while Max King caused two turnovers.
Middlebury held a 31-30 edge in shots, while Conn. won the ground ball battle, 23-16. The Panthers cleared 12-16 opportunities, while the Camels went 15-23.