Medford, Mass – Wesleyan had led all game before Danny Murphy found the net with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter. The Jumbos, storming back following two extra-man opportunity goals to the Cardinals, looked to have taken control.
Taylor Ghesquiere had something to say about that.
Already with four goals on the board, he blasted the game winner with a second left on the shot clock, and 18 seconds left in the game, to propel the Cardinals 12-11 past Tufts.
“We feel like we came out with a good game plan,” said Wesleyan coach John Raba. “We really owned the first half. We knew they could come back, they’re a very good third quarter team, then they did that. We kept grinding. When it comes down to these tight games, you rely on seniors to make big players, and Taylor was that guy today.”
Freshman Ronan Jacoby (Glastonbury, Conn) scored four times as well. The dynamic attackman picked up the slack for the scoreless Carter Hawthorne and one tally from Harry Stanton.
“He can really shoot the ball and has a super quick release,” said Raba. “He’s a big physical kid, he’s 6-foot-2, and being a lefty. He works off all our righties. If they double our guys and they can get him the ball, he’s a pretty good option to shoot. He’s had a great year, moreso than any freshman ever at Wesleyan.”
The Jumbos looked to have been in control coming back before a late two-minute locked in penalty resulting in two goals for the Cardinals. But still, the Jumbos persisted, with Ben Connelly tying the game before Murphy found the net.
Connelly had four goals on the day, and while he was tough to shut down, the Cardinals defense kept the rest of the Jumbos at bay for the most part.
“Our close is playing lights out,” said Raba. “They’re playing really well. We harped all day on getting on Connelly’s hand, he can really shoot. He got his shots today, that was the one piece I was a little disappointed if we could close him off a little more.”
Nick Shanks scored four goals, but Murphy was shut down for most of the afternoon while Matt Treiber, coming off a five-point performance a game ago, was held to a single goal. The defense, led by Andres Rodriguez, shut him and the rest of the Jumbos down when they had to.
“Andres Rodriguez, I think, is the best player in the country,” said Raba. “He doesn’t get the credit because we play a lot of zone, but you see how disruptive he is. He’s an absolute animal.”
The Cardinals advanced to the NCAA semifinals with a chance to advance to the national championship at Gillette Stadium.
“Tufts is a major rival of ours,” said Raba. “Last year we got them three times, this year they got us two times, but we also know it’s really difficult to beat someone three times. Our guys were focused and played well against an outstanding team. This is it for a lot of these guys, there are 16 seniors and they weren’t going to let this be the last one.