Down three goals with just under five minutes to play, the mission of knocking off No. 10 Middlebury seemed out of reach. However, after a goal from Ty Daugstrup to bring the Springfield College men’s lacrosse team within two, the Pride were still alive with 4:34 to play.
As time was ticking slowly for Middlebury and quickly for the Pride, Springfield’s offense held possession, grinding to score two more goals and complete the comeback. The Panthers defense would not budge, as Middlebury held on to defeat the Pride 10-8 on Wednesday.
“They’re a big dog,” said Springfield coach Keith Bugbee. “They’re legit and will go far in the tournament. They play really high-level lacrosse.”
At halftime, the Pride were out of it after six unanswered, second-quarter goals by Middlebury. Springfield had difficulty winning face-offs during the stretch and were plagued by penalties that led to three goals in the second quarter.
“In the second quarter we just dug ourselves too big ‘a hole,” Bugbee said. “It was just too much to make up, you know. It was just unacceptable. So many of the errors were unforced turnovers.”
The message from Bugbee at halftime was to keep playing and to play the entirety of the game, and it nearly worked. The Pride cut the deficit to five four minutes into the third quarter after a goal from Dylan Sheehan who scored three in the game.
After a Panther goal with 10:17 remaining in the third, the Pride scored two goals in under a minute to pull themselves within four. With 5:40 remaining in the quarter, Springfield ripped a shot that would have cut the Middlebury lead to three. However, it missed just wide leading to a Panther transition goal.
The Pride continued to fight, scoring the final two goals of the period. The first was scored by Phillip Dumont, the second by Sheehan which was followed by a big fist pump. The Pride were within three.
“If we play the way we played in the second half, we’re winning our conference,” Bugbee said.
The conference schedule is right around the corner for the Pride, as they take on Emerson on Saturday. Springfield has played a very difficult schedule to help prepare for a growing NEWMAC conference.
The Pride completed their non-conference schedule with a record of 2-7 (4-7 overall), including three overtime games. Six of the nine non-conference opponents Springfield faced are currently ranked in the top 20 in the nation, and Amherst, Bowdoin and Middlebury are ranked in the top 10.
“Our non-conference schedule this year was really hard,” Bugbee said. “It’s the same teams we usually play, but they’re all playing at a higher level. I think every team we played in the non-conference schedule will be in the tournament.”
The NEWMAC has been steadily improving, and the Pride need to do much more than show up to come away with wins.
“Our conference has gotten to the point where if we just show up and play ok, there’s no guarantees we’re going to win,” Bugbee said. “If we come to play, I still think we’re the team to beat.”