The St. Lawrence University men's lacrosse team led nationally-ranked No. 14 Middlebury College throughout most of the first half, but the Panthers owned the final 30:00 minutes, outscoring the Saints 9-2 in the second half en route to an 11-4 win at Hall-Leet Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Panthers remain unbeaten at 4-0 (2-0) thanks to a sound 39-23 advantage in shots and a 25-23 edge in ground balls. St. Lawrence falls to 2-3 after struggling to protect the ball in the second half. The Saints completed only 5-of-11 clears in the second half and committed 21 turnovers in the game.
First-year student Jeremy Vautour scored a hat trick for the Saints in the loss, while senior co-captain Tucker Garfield added a goal and an assist. Senior goalie Jack Nuland was outstanding in the first half, making 10 saves to keep his team in the game. However, he made only four in the final two quarters, finishing with 14 in the effort.
St. Lawrence owned a 2-1 advantage after the first quarter, as Garfield and Middlebury's Harrison Goodkind exchanged goals before Vautour roped a low laser past Panther goalie Nate Gaudio in the final minute of the stanza. Nuland was outstanding in the second quarter, refusing shot after shot to keep his team ahead until the final seconds before halftime. Joel Blockowicz scooped up a rebound and beat Nuland to tie the game at 2-2 with only 5.5 seconds left until intermission.
Blockowicz's goal would shift the momentum entirely in Middlebury's favor, as the visitors rattled off seven straight goals to seize control. Stew Kerr's man-up goal at 4:42 of the third gave the Panthers their first lead. Jon Broome and Kerr would then tally goals only 11 seconds apart for a 5-2 advantage with 9:35 to play in the third.
Erich Pfeffer and Mike Giordano would add goals for a 5-0 third quarter and a 7-2 lead heading to the fourth. Though Vautour would score twice in the last frame, it wasn't enough to get the Saints back in the game, as they fell 11-4. Broome, Sean Carroll, Tim Giarrusso and Mike Ford added goals for Middlebury in the final quarter.
Middlebury finished 2-for-4 on man-up, while St. Lawrence was 0-for-3. Gaudio earned the win in net for the Panthers with nine saves, including four in the first quarter when his team was being outplayed.
Senior Josh Robinson added a game-high five caused turnovers for the Saints and a pair of ground balls, while Sam Marvin had three of each. The Middlebury defense, which was fantastic throughout the game, was anchored by Billy Chapman and Zach Driscoll, who had three caused turnovers each.
St. Lawrence will look to snap its three-game losing skid on Saturday when it opens the 2013 Liberty League season in Saratoga Springs, NY against Skidmore College at 1:00pm.