The Pride’s Jack Vail got the ball with under 20 seconds remaining in the game. Springfield trailed, 12-11.
He ran with the ball down the near-sideline.
As he made his way downfield, Middlebury’s Eric Rogers made solid contact with Vail’s stick. The check sent Vail’s stick flying, and with it Springfield’s chances of tying the game.
Springfield College men’s lacrosse fell to Middlebury College on Wednesday, 12-11. Vail, Matt Allen, Duncan Preston and Tom Hurley each scored two goals for the Pride.
Rogers’ check served as an emphatic punctuation to the game.
Although the Pride lost, Springfield head coach Keith Bugbee feels like his team played much better than they did on Saturday against Babson.
“If we played like this we wouldn’t have lost to Babson, put it that way,” said Bugbee. “Today was just two good teams [going at it]. What we are trying to do, which is what every coach is trying to do, is to get the guys to play 60 minutes. Play the whole game. It’s hard, but you’ve got to do it; and we have done it, especially earlier in the season. We probably have gotten away from it a bit lately, but we have to find it again.”
The Pride started off the game against Middlebury much better than they finished their game against Babson on Saturday by outsourcing the Panthers 5-2 in the opening quarter. Springfield surrendered six-straight goals in the fourth quarter against the Beavers on Saturday.
Moving into the second quarter, Middlebury received the Pride’s figurative opening punch and sent one of their own in return.
The Panther’s attack did a solid job of bouncing the ball around the perimeter to find shooting lanes to capitalize on. Whenever Springfield did a good job of closing those lanes, attackmen, like Henry Riehl and Chase Goree, were able to catch defenders ball-watching and found attackmen back-door for easy goals.
Middlebury outscored Springfield 6-1 in the second quarter.
“Stay focused, play hard and play fast for the whole game,” said Bugbee on what the team needs to do better moving forward. “No quarters off. If things don’t go great, stay with it. We got out of the gate fast to start today; I loved to see that. What happens when you get out of the gate like that is they press. Then they press a little harder. Then you have to respond, which I thought we did. I thought we had the opportunity to win the game [at the end]. We had some really good looks. It’s a game of inches sometimes.”
Down the stretch, the Pride struggled defensively in transition.
Springfield led, 10-9, with 6:48 to go in the game.
Right after a faceoff win from Middlebury, the Panthers flew down field, made a few defenders miss and scored to tie the game up. Less than a minute later, Middlebury got on the break again and John Jackson scored in close to grab the lead. Vail scored his second goal of the day by sneaking in backdoor and finishing in close to tie the game up at 11-11 with 5:09 left in the game.
A.J. Kucinski put the final nail in the coffin when he scored unassisted with 59 seconds remaining.
“It’s been mental toughness,” said Bugbee on what has caused some of the team’s slip ups this season. “I think there are a couple of games we could have had (earlier this season). The intensity level just has to be maintained. We play such a good independent schedule. It was good for us. It challenged us, now we just have to make that work. We have some good league games coming up. Coast Guard particularly is excellent; really really good team. They are going to demand us to play mentally tough.”
Springfield begins it’s NEWMAC stretch on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. against Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Stagg Field.
Featured photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics.