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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Hamilton College goalie Case Tatro (Sr., Titusville, Fla.) made eight saves to notch Player of the Game accolades as the Continentals downed host Middlebury College, 9-6, in the Fifth Place game of the 2017 Men’s Division III Collegiate Club Championship.

The game was a story of halves as the host Panthers held the advantage in the first 14 minutes of competition, while the Continentals dominated the last 14 minutes to escape with the win.

Middlebury jumped on the scoreboard first in the opening moments of the contest as Sam Van Lokeren (Fr., San Francisco, Calif.) slipped a shot into the cage 45 seconds into the game for the icebreaker. Hamilton responded 28 seconds later when Christopher Wan (So., Irvine, Calif.) whipped home the equalizer with 5:47 on the clock, but David Cohen (So., Princeton, N.J.) delivered for the Panthers 41 seconds later (5:41) to return the lead to Middlebury at 2-1.

Clay Holmes (Sr., Greenwich, Conn.) balanced the scoreboard for Hamilton at 4:20, but back-to-back driving shots from Van Lokeren (3:18) and Robert Bernhardt (Jr., Champaign, Ill.) (1:51) staked Middlebury to a 4-2 lead with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.

Following a buzzer-beater by Holmes to draw the curtain down on the first quarter and move Hamilton back to within one at 4-3 entering the second quarter, Kevin Benscheidt (Sr., Fresno, Calif.) returned Middlebury’s lead to a pair by bombing in a blast with 4:35 until halftime.  The Continentials continued to stalk the Panthers, however, as Evan Tatro (So., Titusville, Fla.) stroked in a shot at 3:40 to again shave Middlebury’s lead down to one at 5-4.

Facing a resurgent Hamilton offense in the waning moments of the first half, Benscheidt reinflated the host’s lead to two by hooking a ball into the cage with 2:52 to go for a 6-4 Panthers’ advantage at the break.

Benscheidt’s goal marked the final score of the afternoon for Middlebury as Hamilton’s defense stiffened and its offense overcame a cumbersome first half performance.

The Panthers’s two-goal lead evaporated in short-order during the third quarter as Frankie Hearne (Jr., Singapore, Singapore) lanced in a man-up opportunity (3:51) and Holmes heaved in a natural marker (3:04) to knot the game at six-all.  It marked the first time the two teams were even since the 4:20 mark of the opening quarter.

Evan Tatro delivered the winning score less than two minutes later by breaking free to cash in on a six-on-five advantage with 2:09 on the clock and present Hamilton its first and only lead of the game.

The Continentals sealed the deal and insured victory in the fourth quarter as Benjamin Cooper (Sr., Brattleboro, Vt.) drilled in a man-up chance (3:56) and Evan Tatro further padded the margin to 9-6 with another power-play conversion (1:03).

For Hamilton, Holmes and Evan Tatro inflicted the majority of the damage with hat-tricks, while Cooper, Hearne and Wan each tacked on single goals.

Historically, it marks the third time Hamilton finishes Fifth at the Division III National Collegiate Club Championship following earlier Fifth (2010, 2011), Sixth (2016) and Seventh (2012) Place marks.

Van Lokeren and Benscheidt led Middlebury with pairs of goals to accompany single score performances by Cohen and Bernhardt.  Goalie Diego Espino (Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.) stopped eight shots in taking the loss.

The Sixth Place finish continues a trend of high and low standings spots for the Panthers with previous trips to the Division III Club Championship tournament in 2003 (First at Bowdoin College), 2009 (Seventh at Bowdoin), 2011 (Seventh at Hamilton), 2012 (Eighth at home), 2014 (Third at Bowdoin), 2015 (Second at Macalester College) and Seventh (2016 at Hamilton).

1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q FINAL
Hamilton College 3 1 3 2 9
Middlebury College 4 2 0 0 6
Middlebury Goals: Sam Van Lokeren (2); Kevin Benscheidt (2); David Cohen; Robert Bernhardt
Hamilton Goals: Clay Holmes (3); Evan Tatro (3); Benjamin Cooper; Frankie Hearne; Christopher Wan
Saves: Middlebury – Diego Espino (8) ; Hamilton – Case Tatro (8)
Exclusions: Middlebury – 6 ; Hamilton – 4
Advantage Opportunities: Middlebury – 0-for-4 ; Hamilton – 4-for-6
Sprints: Middlebury – 0-for-4  ; Hamilton – 4-for-4
Officials: Brian Swider, Steve Sargalski



Photo 1: Middlebury College’s Taylor Moore (#14) passes over Hamilton College’s Frankie Hearne (#12); Photo 2: Hamilton College’s Clay Holmes; Photo 3: Middlebury College’s David Cohen looks to elude Hamilton College’s Joshua Rothstein (#9)

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