Contact: Ben Badua
MEDFORD, Mass. – Advancing to the NESCAC championship game for the first time in program history, the 14th-ranked Amherst men's lacrosse team held off No. 17 Wesleyan in a semifinal match-up on top-seeded Tufts' Bello Field, 12-8.
Building a 6-2 lead at the intermission, Amherst used a 6-3 third quarter run to help put the Cardinals away and improve to 14-3 (7-3 NESCAC) overall. The Jeffs will face the host Jumbos, who dispatched of Williams in the day's other semifinal (17-6). Tomorrow's title tilt is slated for 12 p.m. An upset victory over seventh-ranked Tufts would not only give Amherst its first NESCAC crown, but tie the 2011 team's program record of 15 wins.
Kane Haffey '16 paced the Jeff attack with four goals, while Devin Acton '14 chipped in with a hat-trick. The first Amherst player since Derek Cherney '07 (204) to surpass the 200-point plateau, the senior standout upped his career point total to 210. Charlie Gill '16 added a pair of scores and an assist, while Aaron Mathias '14, Michael Litner '16 and Matt Killian '17 accounted for the rest of the Jeffs' 12 goals.
Wasting no time putting the Purple & White on the board, Haffey made good on a Rob Butko '16 helper at 12:23. Just nine seconds later, Acton tallied his first goal before Gill notched consecutive markers just 46 seconds apart to quickly make it 4-0.
With Lyle Mitchell '16 recording Wesleyan's first goal at the 1:46 mark of the first quarter, Haffey opened the second period scoring with an unassisted tally. Mike Giambanco '14 momentarily pulled the Cardinals back within three, but Acton's second of the game with just nine ticks left on the clock before the half gave Amherst a 6-2 cushion.
Just 42 seconds after the restart, Mathias netted a goal off a Patrick Moroney '14 assist, but Giambanco came right back with a tally at 13:26. After Killian and Matt Prezioso '15 exchanged scores, Haffey once again found the back of the net to make it 9-4. Litner extended the margin to six with a goal 1:12 later to make it 10-4.
A man-up Giambanco marker with 6:42 left in the third pulled Wesleyan back within five, but back-to-back Haffey and Acton tallies gave the Jeffs their largest lead. The Cardinals closed out the contest with three unanswered during the final 11:50, but it was too little, too late as Amherst secured its second victory over its little rival during the 2014 season.
With each team collecting 26 ground balls and winning 12 face-offs, the Jeffs finished with a slim 45-41 edge in shots. Amherst's Greg Majno '14 made 12 saves in the win, while Justin Schick '15 recorded 14 stops in 57:55 minutes.