Bates Bobcast Episode 153: Defense! Defense! (With some offense mixed in)

Defense was the name of the game last week for Bates field hockey and men's soccer. Plus, the cross country teams both won the Maine state title and the football team took Tufts to the wire. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!

Interviews and highlights this episode:

  • 0:38 -- Bobby Dall '23, Men's Soccer (Game-winning goal against No. 15 Middlebury).
  • 1:27 -- Alex Kovacs '23, Men's Soccer (Male Bobcat of the Week).
  • 7:57 -- Riley Burns '22, Field Hockey (Game-winning goal against No. 20 Trinity).
  • 8:53 -- Alexa Jurgeleit '20, Field Hockey (Female Bobcat of the Week).
  • 13:32 -- Jill Richardson '23, Women's Cross Country.
  • 18:25 -- Eli Boesch-Dining '23, Men's Cross Country.
  • 25:33 -- Chloe Baylor '23, Women's Golf.
  • 33:41 -- Christian Sanfilippo '21, Football.
  • 40:16 -- Malik Hall, Head Coach, Football.

Bobcast Transcript

Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast! Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re talking about the great defensive performances turned in by the field hockey and men’s soccer teams over the weekend. Plus, the cross country teams BOTH took home the Maine state championship. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast! 

Aaron: The men’s soccer team recorded its biggest win of the season far on Saturday, shutting out No. 15 nationally ranked Middlebury 1-0 on this goal from first-year Bobby Dall.

Broadcaster: Szwarcewicz to the back post. Dall rising and scores! Bar down for Bobby Dall! And the first-year out of Cape Elizabeth opens his collegiate scoring account with a beautiful goal.

Aaron: The victory over the Panthers returned the Hedley Reynolds Cup to Lewiston and the Bobcats followed that up with a 2-0 win over Trinity on Sunday. The back-to-back shutouts give Bates a 7-2-1 record on the season, the program’s best start through 10 matches since 2005. Defense was the name of the game this weekend, and first-year back Alex Kovacs played a key role helping the Bobcats move into fourth place in the NESCAC standings. Kovacs has started all but one match this season and he is our Male Bobcat of the Week! 

Alex: I started playing soccer, four or five years old. I was kicking the ball around in the backyard with my dad. And it escalated from there. In fourth, fifth grade, I started playing club. Progressively got more serious in high school. And around my freshman year in high school, I was really determined to play in college.

Aaron: And defensively... Why did you end up playing defense? Kind of that's been your thing for awhile, right?

Alex: It has been, it has been, yeah. I just love the aggressiveness of it and the constant thinking on your feet. That part of the game has really interested me a lot. So, I really found myself loving that role, that defensive role, protecting, protecting the team, kind of being the grit guy. So, yeah.

Aaron: Certainly. And when you were looking at colleges, what made Bates the place you wanted to go?

Alex: The people really was the biggest thing for me that stuck out. I came and stayed overnight with the team and they were really great guys, very supportive. They really had very good team chemistry, which I didn't see in a lot of other schools.

Aaron: And then big first-year class, 17 guys. What's that experience been like?

Alex: It's really cool. A lot of us... There's a lot of competition between players, of course. But it's nice to have a lot of guys that support each other and really work to push each other to play better.

Aaron: Coach Tyler's done a good job getting guys a lot of minutes in terms of rotation and whatnot.

Alex: Absolutely, yeah. He definitely gives the guys that deserve time, time. He definitely... if you work for it, he will get you minutes, which is really cool.

Aaron: Because we saw one of the other first-years get his first career goal against Middlebury, right?

Alex: Yeah. Bobby Dall.

Aaron: Yeah, Bobby Dall.

Alex: Yeah, he put it in a header. That was fantastic. I mean, unreal play. Just a really great play. And that's what happens when you really play your heart out. And that's what Bobby did. Deserved his time.

Aaron: And then how proud were you and your fellow teammates about posting not one but two shutouts this weekend?

Alex: Oh, that was huge for us. We really needed those six points. And shutouts always makes everything look better. And we're very proud. We're keeping our heads locked in on the next match against Wesleyan. But we're very happy with our results.

Aaron: Were you familiar with the Middlebury rivalry coming in at all? Or...

Alex: Yeah. So, the seniors had informed me about the Reynolds Cup and the whole tradition behind that. So, we were well-informed about the rivalry. And that made the game all that more important for us. So...

Aaron: Certainly. And you've obviously got to experience playing against teams like Tufts, who won the national title last year. What's that experience been like, going up against the best of the best?

Alex: Oh, that was... I mean, that was unreal. That was... I mean, I don't even know where to start with that. Yeah, the defending national champions really... they posed a big challenge for us. And as a first-year here on the team, I was so honored to just be able to be a part of that experience and really go against some of the best.

Aaron: Great start to the year, 7-2-1. What would you describe this team's style as? What do you bring? What is the team play? What's Coach Tyler emphasized in terms of what you bring to the table against opponents?

Alex: Yeah. So, coach really emphasizes this two-style soccer. One's more of the ability to possess the ball and play it on the ground to different players and do quick touches and move up the field like that. But there's also this other half, this other component, which involves, hard work, a lot of sometimes you need to get the ball up forward and push the whole line up as a defense and really earn the ball back in their half. So, we have this two-style system that really works well for us.

Aaron: Nice. And then how's your chemistry with the goalkeeper, David Goodstein? It seems like it's been working out well so far.

Alex: Yeah. Absolutely, yeah. I mean, he's great. He's very good at communicating to the defensive line where to be. When he wants the ball, he yells at me and the other guys. And that's exactly what we need out of a keeper so it's great.

Aaron: As a first-year, what's been the biggest adjustment to college soccer versus playing in high school?

Alex: Oh, it's definitely much more rigorous. The schedule is pretty demanding. You're always spending time with the guys and yeah. But I love it because the team, the team spirit, the team vibe is very close-knit. And we didn't get a lot of that in high school. So...

Aaron: One of the captains is Blaise Marceau there on defense. He's not the biggest guy but he had a huge impact, doesn't he? What's his leadership like?

Alex: Oh, he's so... He's that fiery player that every team needs, that guy that will really get everybody going, everybody motivated at the start of the game. And he's never afraid to go into any tackle against any-sized person. And that's very admirable. And it's... yeah, it's impressive.

Aaron: It seems like this team has a lot of confidence because I see you guys play, I hear you guys talking and guys like Jacob Iwowo are like, "Just give me the ball. I'll do the rest." How cool is it to have that confidence as a unit?

Alex: Oh, it's awesome. Yeah. It's exactly what we need. We need guys that are relaxed and know that they can play and are willing to make the game change or change the game. Yeah.

Aaron: It's an interesting sport because I feel like no matter what the talent level is between the teams, sometimes just a bounce of a ball changes everything, right?

Alex: Yeah. Absolutely, yeah. We saw that a couple of times this season, especially in the Conn. game. It was just an unlucky header, bounced off the post, they were able to put it in. So, it's very much a bounce, a couple bounces, some chances, some risks. Yeah, absolutely.

Aaron: Last year, the team also got off to a good start but had a rough finish. Has Coach Tyler, you weren't here for that, but has Coach Tyler talked about that?

Alex: Yeah, he did. He said... yeah, when we were starting off so strong, he warned us of last year's situation. And it's really good for us to know that because we need to keep our heads level and really play smart in these upcoming games.

Aaron: Great. Well, and then going off the field a bit, how's the transition been like academically to Bates because obviously, that's what you're here for, is to get that degree?

Alex: Absolutely. It's definitely been challenging to some regard, especially managing homework and soccer and other activities, social activities, etc. But it's very doable once... The team is really good about supporting each other in academics as well. So, they're pushing study halls. We do group study halls. And they're making sure kids are doing their homework. So, that's been really helpful as well.

Aaron: Excellent. Well, any other thoughts on the season so far you wanted to share?

Alex: I'm just really excited. I'm very fired up. I'm really honored to be starting in this spot. And yeah, just big things coming forward.

Aaron: All right, Alex Kovacs, Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.

Alex: Thank you very much.

Aaron: The No. 14 nationally ranked Bates field hockey team split a pair of games against ranked opponents during Back-to-Bates weekend. On Saturday, Bates went toe-to-toe with defending national champion and undefeated No. 1 Middlebury, falling 1-0 on a penalty stroke. Then the next day the Bobcats defeated No. 20 Trinity 1-0 on this goal from sophomore Riley Burns.

Broadcaster: Cote stick-handling. Cote back toward the middle. Gianunzio turns. Save, rebound, score! Riley Burns scores the first goal of the game as the Bobcats finally convert on a penalty corner. And with 7:57 left in the third quarter, the Bobcats take the 1-0 lead. 

Aaron: Bates sports a record of 6-3 on the season, with all three losses coming to teams ranked in the top seven nationally. This is the best record through nine games for the field hockey program since 2000. Senior captain Alexa Jurgeleit anchors a Bates defense that allowed only 10 shots on goal over two games this weekend and she is our Female Bobcat of the Week!

Alexa: We just all work really well together and we communicate really well together. We, if one of us steps up, the other one is right behind us to cover us if something gets by us. We work really well with the goalies too. If there's somebody open that we don't see behind us, they call us on to those girls to mark them. So yeah, we just work really well and talk to each other really well. So...

Aaron: And Ellie's been playing the first half and Grace has been playing the second half in goal. Does anything change at all in terms of communication or is it pretty similar styles with those two?

Alexa: They're both pretty similar, I'd say. They're both really reliable and awesome goalkeepers. So, it's really comforting having them behind me in the center of the field. So, it's nice.

Aaron: Middlebury, obviously, national champion last year. A team that's really tough. And you held them to... really, their only goal was off the penalty stroke, right? So, during regular play, they didn't score. What was that experience like, going up against them? And what has it been like the past few years also?

Alexa: Yeah. It was really exciting to be so close to them, like to have a game that could've gone either way, really. We actually had a ball go in the net that the refs called back so it was kind of like... It was pretty frustrating actually. But to know you're basically... you're as good as a national champion, like, you can keep up with them is like really exciting. I guess, one stroke separates us from that so that's exciting. And in the past years, we've... the goal differential has been a little higher so it was definitely exciting to keep them to just a goal.

Aaron: Confidence boost a bit, also? This is arguably the best team in the country and we're right there.

Alexa: Yeah. I think it's definitely a confidence boost. We're totally proud of how we played. We played really well and we gave it everything we had.

Aaron: So, the next day, Trinity, got the 1-0 victory in that game. What was that game like maybe compared to the Middlebury game? Another close decision, this time with Bates coming out on top.

Alexa: Yeah. That was also exciting. During my time here, we haven't beaten Trinity so it was definitely exciting to get that win against them. But yeah, that... We should have... We were playing well that game, I guess, but we not necessarily were playing the way we know how. We definitely could have scored earlier than we did so it was kind of stressful not having scored yet. We had opportunities that we just couldn't put in the net so when we finally did it was really exciting. Yeah.

Aaron: Yeah. The goal came in the third quarter, I believe. And so, at half-time, it was scoreless. So, what was the conversation like at the half?

Alexa: Basically, just kind of do everything you can to put the ball in net. We had good crosses and people were just kind of missing them on posts or whatever. So, just doing anything you can to get the ball in the net.

Aaron: Yeah. Well, you're on defense though so you don't have a whole lot of control over what happens on the other side, right?

Alexa: Yeah. Just kind of watch. Yeah.

Aaron: But defensively, it seems like you touched on the fact that there's a lot of really good communication there. How have you seen your game kind of grow this season?

Alexa: I think I've gotten a little bit more directive in my communication. Being a senior, I'm kind of more comfortable talking on the field and also being one of those people that tells my other backs who's behind them, where to be on the field. So...

Aaron: And then Abby and Grace Fitzgerald are your fellow captains. What has it like been working with them?

Alexa: They're great. I love both of them. Abby's super dependable in the back and Grace as well in the midfield. I can always count on the two of them to be... catch me if I fall, I guess, on the field and off the field, I'd say.

Aaron: Going forward, what are some goals? What are some points of emphasis the team is kind of working on to try to get a really good seeding in the NESCAC tournament?

Alexa: Keep plugging away, keep doing what we're doing. We have tough competition still coming up, like bunch of NESCAC teams that we haven't played. So, as long as we show up to those games, hopefully they'll go our way and we'll make it to the tournament.

Aaron: How would you describe this team as a unit in terms of off the field working and on the field working together, just not only the defense but everyone as a whole?

Alexa: Yeah. We're pretty cohesive. There's no really divide between grades or anything like that or friend groups. We're all kind of one unit, which really helps on the field. Off the field, if we're all friends, it definitely helps on the field.

Aaron: Yeah, certainly. Well, any other thoughts on the weekend? Obviously two very close games against ranked opponents.

Alexa: Yeah. No, I'm just excited for what's to come. We had two really good games and it's just going to propel us forward into the next couple games.

Aaron: Great. Female Bobcat of the Week, Alexa Jurgeleit. Thanks so much.

Alexa: Thank you. 

Aaron: Both cross country teams took home the Maine state championship Saturday in Waterville. For the women, it’s their fourth straight state title. First-year Auburn native Jill Richardson came in third overall, leading FIVE Bates runners who all earned All-State honors for finishing among the top seven individuals.

Jill: It was definitely a lot of fun. We were definitely thinking about the seniors because this would be their fourth year winning it. So, I think we were all trying to work together as a team to make that possible for them. We were all really excited and just wanted to try our best.

Aaron: And tell me about the course that you raced on there this weekend.

Jill: We weren't exactly sure what we were going into because it was different from last year. There used to be a really long, like over a mile-and-a-half hill, but that wasn't in it. So, we weren't exactly sure what we were going to find. But we did a course walk and it was definitely a lot different from the Pineland course. It was more even with the hill ratio.

Aaron: So, what was it like for you, from your perspective, running?

Jill: I, honestly doing the course walk, I thought that Pineland would be harder because it has a lot of bigger hills. But Colby was definitely a difficult course because it had a lot of sneaky hills that kind of caught up with you.

Aaron: Sure. Well, you led the way, finishing third for the Bobcats. And then a bunch of your teammates finished right behind you. How was that, getting all those spots in the top 10?

Jill: That was so exciting. I turned around and I just saw everybody coming in and I was like, "Oh yeah." I felt like we had the win that time. So...

Aaron: Right. At that moment.

Jill: Yeah.

Aaron: Yeah. Excellent, So, it was a 5K. And now, you have a 6K race coming up for your first and the rest will be 6Ks after that. So, what are your thoughts on the extra kilometer?

Jill: Honestly, I'm excited to try it. I always feel like the longer I go, the better it gets. I like long distance. I'm excited. We've definitely been... Coach Jay and Coach Art have been doing some workouts that would be better for longer distances. We've been practicing that. And yeah, I think we all feel prepared.

Aaron: Well, speaking of that, talking today, you just came back from practice in the pouring rain. So, six miles in the pouring rain. When it's raining like that, what's that like, running around the streets of a Lewiston?

Jill: I guess at first, we were all kind of like, "Oh no." But once you get out there, it's good and you got the team. We all just chat away and you don't really notice it. It was a lot of fun.

Aaron: Yeah. In terms of a workout. So, it's a little bit slower pace, I imagine, than a actual race. So, what's that like?

Jill: I think that we've talked about starting out a little bit easier at the beginning and kind of building up at the end to try and finish hard in the last mile. What we do is we have groups and then each group sort of has a pace. And usually, for, say, if there's six sets, the first three sets, we all have to stay together and we try and keep on pace. And then after that, we can kind of... whoever is feeling better or whatnot, you can do your own pace.

Aaron: Excellent. And then who are you running with during the race at the Maine State Meet? Was it Olivia or some other folks?

Jill: Yeah I was with Olivia, which was a lot of fun. I think that we helped each other a lot to push through the course.

Aaron: And she's one of those seniors, right, trying to get the win for?

Jill: Yes.

Aaron: So, what was it like to see them react to winning that fourth in a row?

Jill: Yeah. That was a lot of fun. I think they really excited and we were excited for them. And I think that now, as freshmen, we're hoping we can do that too.

Aaron: Certainly, right, yeah. You start your own tradition here. Any other thoughts on the weekend? And what were some observations of how the team is stacking up sort of this year?

Jill: Yeah. So, I feel like definitely, the course was harder but I feel like everybody ran really well and consistent. And I think everybody's making big improvements. This next Saturday, we have the St. Joe's race, which will be really fun. We're going to go cheer them on. And yeah, I think just revving up for Ohio. The top seven, we're doing Ohio and then yep. Everybody else is... St Joe's. Well, but we have 10 going to Ohio but we're just not sure who yet.

Aaron: So, how are you going to gear up these next couple of weeks for Ohio?

Jill: This next week, we have a workout on Tuesday and a workout on Friday that were going to be I'm sure kind of more geared towards a 6K. And yeah, just getting excited as a team.

Aaron: You looking forward to being a spectator of this upcoming weekend then?

Jill: I am really excited. I love watching races. So, it's always fun, especially when you get to see your own team. I feel like I usually try and get to all different places. I kind of like to jog around and watch. I always like to go up on a hill and give some moral support there. Yeah. And then definitely go to the finish and see how everybody does.

Aaron: Jill Richardson, thanks so much for joining the Bobcast and congrats again on the team winning the Maine State Championship.

Jill: Thank you so much. 

Aaron: The No. 17 nationally ranked Bates men’s cross country team edged a strong Colby squad to earn its second state title in the last four years. First-year Eli Boesch-Dining led the way for the Bobcats, taking third overall. 

Eli: Yeah. So, it was a fun meet to be at. It was pretty hilly. Going in, I wasn't really expecting to be third overall, first for our team. I was more just trying to get top seven to be All-State. But I'm glad with the way it went. I think our team overall did pretty well, except we could have done better. At the Pineland Super XC Shootout, we did really well as a team and we finished really close together. It's a good indication of our season to come and I think we'll do well.

Aaron: So, tell me a little about yourself. Growing up in New Hampshire, when did you get into running? And when did you decide you wanted to do this in college?

Eli: So, I started running in sixth grade and I've been doing it ever since. I mostly started because I was forced to by my parents because my older sister was a great runner for our high school. So, I followed in her footsteps, I guess.

Aaron: And did you enjoy it right away or did it take awhile?

Eli: So, I didn't really enjoy it until eighth grade or freshman year, when I started to become a little better. But once that happened, I knew I was going to run in college. And I've been super excited for it ever since.

Aaron: So, when you were looking for colleges, what made Bates the place you wanted to attend?

Eli: So, I didn't even look at Bates initially, actually; I was looking at a bunch of engineering schools. But my coach, a Bates alum, recommended Bates to me. And once I stepped foot on campus and did my overnight here, I just fell in love with the place. Yeah.

Aaron: So, did your coach also run for Coach Fresh?

Eli: Yes, he did.

Aaron: Nice, nice. And what was his name?

Eli: Tristan Black-Ingersoll. We call him Bling.

Aaron: Okay, nice. And so, did you... so, you visited campus and everything before you decided to enroll and whatnot?

Eli: Yeah. So, I visited for the first time, either last fall or last summer. And I did an overnight with the team last fall. And Bart Rust, who was second for our team on Saturday, was my host. And so, I owe a lot of it to him for coming here as well.

Aaron: Excellent. So, what's been the biggest transition from high school to college, whether it be on the course, running or off the course, academically?

Eli: So, running, my coach was a big fan of high mileage in high school too so we practiced for about the same amount each week as well. So, that's not a huge transition. Although, I will say that the swim workouts on Mondays are a tough one for me personally.

Aaron: Tell me about the swim workouts.

Eli: Okay. So, every Monday, we have a swim workout in the morning usually. And I'm not a big fan of swimming. I'm okay with treading water and keeping my head above water but once I have to do the crawl or something, it gets a lot harder.

Aaron: And these workouts, what do they do in terms of helping you from a cross country perspective?

Eli: So, yeah. It does seem like an interesting thing for cross country runners to do but it's good cross-training. You get a good aerobic workout. And it really helps you increase your VO2 max, which is how much oxygen you can hold in your lungs.

Aaron: Nice. So, what's Coach Fresh like as a head coach?

Eli: He's a great guy. He is firm when he needs to be but he also has a good sense of humor. And he's always pushing us to be better. And my favorite thing about him, well I have a lot of favorite things about him, but one of the things I like about him is every week after a race, we get Moxie awards for the 12 best guys... or not 12 best performances but the guys who had their personal best performances on the team. So, that's pretty cool.

Aaron: And this past weekend, personal best for you, it seemed like, obviously? Third in the state.

Eli: Yeah, yeah. That was a pretty good performance for me. I didn't quite PR, get a new personal record, but I was four seconds off. And it was a hillier course so I was happy. Yeah.

Aaron: And you guys train at Pineland and that's hilly too, right?

Eli: Yeah. That's also pretty hilly but this one was especially tough. There was one big hill and yeah, Pineland is a bunch of rolling hills. So, they're both pretty tough. I think they're pretty equally matched but a lot of other guys on the team thought this one was harder. So...

Aaron: Interesting. So, we often hear, with cross country, about pack mentality and running as a group. Were you running with Bart or some other guys? Or how did that go on this weekend?

Eli: Sure. So, for the first two laps, which were pretty flat, I stuck a little bit back. I was still with the lead pack but I was at the back of the lead pack. Bart and Nealis were keeping up with the front runners, Tyler Morris and Eli Decker from Colby. And I just thought that I couldn't really sustain that pace so I was hanging back a little with Justin Levine. And by the time we reached the big hill on the third lap, which is about halfway through the race, then I came up more towards the front because guys were having a little bit of a harder time keeping up with that same pace. So, that's when I took the lead for our team.

Aaron: Night before a cross country meet, what's your routine in terms of preparing for it to make sure you're ready to go that day?

Eli: So, I like to carbo-load usually at dinner and... Let's see. So, I usually try to get spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread. I mean, I prefer Texas toast but the Commons' garlic bread is pretty good. And then I get a good night's sleep. And I just kind of try to relax between dinner time and sleeping. Yeah.

Aaron: Got you. And then right before the meet, does the team gather? Does anyone give a speech or anything like that? Or is it pretty laid back?

Eli: So, we usually have a team breakfast pretty early right before we leave for the meet and so you eat a little bit. Not too much because you're running in two or three hours. And we don't really have a team speech then. We're all just rolling out of bed so we're all kind of yawning and stuff. But once we get to the meet, Ryan Nealis, one of our captains, is famous for his speeches. He's very inspirational.

Aaron: Nice, nice. Loved to hear one of those some time. But what are your thoughts on the meet and the season so far? So, the team's ranked nationally and it must be a great way to start your collegiate career here.

Eli: Yeah. So, it's been a really good season so far. It's different from high school, only having had three meets so far and usually, I'd have competed in like 10 or 12. I'm really excited for what's coming up. Oberlin is in two weeks. We're flying out to Ohio. And then I'm really hoping we make nationals as a team. That's the main goal.

Eli: In high school, I was used to being second man. We had a really good first man named Forest Mackenzie and we... New Hampshire Cross Country, which was the website that kind of talked about New Hampshire running a lot, called us a one-two punch and I was his shadow, per se. So, I really like being up there with the guys. I'm not used to leading but I really do like being up there with the strong lead pack. 

Aaron: First-year Chloe Baylor competed at the NESCAC Women’s Golf Fall Qualifier over the weekend and shot an 87 on Saturday and an 88 on Sunday to finish tied for 20th out of 33 NESCAC golfers. Her performance was good enough to qualify for the spring conference championships and she’ll join men’s golfer Julien Lewin at Taconic Golf Club this April, with a NESCAC title on the line.

Aaron: Your teammates weren't there so it was just you individually. What was that experience like, just you and coach, both days walking the course there?

Chloe: It was really interesting. I've never had a, how coach said, a caddy before. So, it was really nice having him there, helping me every step of the way, making good decisions, especially on the greens. The greens are completely slopey and really, really hard to read. And he gave me some reads that were crazy in my opinion but whenever I listened, they usually went pretty close to the hole so I'm really glad he was there.

Aaron: Excellent. And then, obviously your goal was to qualify for the spring. You did. Going into Sunday, did you know what you had to do kind of? Or what was your approach to things coming kind of down the stretch there?

Chloe: So, actually, I thought after the day that I was nowhere close to qualifying. I had no idea. But going into the second day, the conditions were much worse. We had lots of wind. It was really cold. And so, my goals were to attack the course just one shot at a time, make sure I kept my emotions in check and just had fun but also made some realistic goals of how many pars I wanted to have and how to manage tough holes. So...

Aaron: What were some memorable holes in particular, perhaps?

Chloe: One hole that, in a bad way, was memorable was number 10. Number 10 was a horrible par five. And I got caught both days on that. But how I recovered from number 10 on the second day, I think was what made me so proud, is that I bounced back, having a really bad hole off the green, putted off the green. And I bounced back on number 11, going par, par, par. And that I think was a big accomplishment for me because usually when I start going down a bad path, I might then have a bogey or double bogey the next few holes. But coach really got me out of that funk. And we just went back to, "Okay, it's time to par. Let's go. What do we need to do to get the job done?" So...

Aaron: Yeah. You mentioned that the conditions were rough on Sunday. What made that particular hole, that par five, so difficult?

Chloe: First of all, it was really long. I mean, it was over 550 yards, I would say. And so, for women, that, to get there, even in three, it takes a lot of power and you have to be precise. Also, the green ran off in the front. And so, if you landed it too close to the front, where the pin was placed, you would roll off back down about 30 feet.

Chloe: So, I had a struggle of I would hit up to the green and then it would roll down. And then it was if you chipped it up and you chipped it up too far, then you had to putt it down. And the green was really slopey. So, you almost had to putt it at a 90 degree angle of the hole so that it would barely go. I mean, you almost wanted the wind to just take it. It was that hard of a hole. So, that one was just, for me, very challenging and something I couldn't quite overcome on the second day but that I'm really glad I bounced back from.

Aaron: Certainly. And then, when did you find out you'd qualified?

Chloe: Last night, I did. I was actually FaceTiming my family and I got the call from coach. And he just goes, "You qualified." And I was like, "What? No way! Are you serious?" And it was such a good moment because my dad and my mom were right there with me. And so, they were all screaming. Coach is screaming. I'm screaming. We're all kind of in this happy moment. And I was completely taken by surprise. I thought for sure I didn't make it, with just kind of my results, looking at other players. But I did and I'm really proud of it. So...

Aaron: Excellent. So, going back from Williamstown to Bates, during that ride you thought you hadn't made it?

Chloe: Yeah. I was talking to coach and he was saying, "You played really well. I mean, you had 11 pars on day two. I mean, disregard then the other holes." But I had 11 pars. I really stuck it out in those hard conditions. And he said I should be proud of how I played and that next year would be a good year and then I would for sure make it then. And when I got back in a few hours later, he called me saying, "I just looked it up. You got in." It was, I think, a shock to both of us really. So...

Aaron: Nice. And then, in terms of your fellow golfers in the NESCAC, I mean, you being a first year, what were your impressions of seeing them play a little bit?

Chloe: I really look up to a lot of the players from other teams, especially the number one from Bowdoin, Caroline. She's a senior and so she's giving me some good advice about how to go about schoolwork and how to manage my time and stuff like that on the course. And so, I was really rooting on the Bowdoin team. And I think I've just taken away that no matter what your age or year, you can get there and you can actually qualify and that you should go for it every year that you have the chance to because pretty soon, it'll be your senior year and it'll be your last time to qualify. So, she actually said that she hoped that I would do really well. And I think the Bowdoin team did pretty well as a team as well.

Aaron: Nice. And so, now what's your approach between now and April?

Chloe: Definitely to continue practicing. We have the really nice indoor facility here that allows us to play on the TrackMan and do all that stuff. So, I'm going to definitely be doing that. And I'm going to be probably working with Julien from the men's golf team. He also qualified. And so, we've kind of talked about working together a little bit and maintaining the game and trying to just play regularly inside throughout the winter.

Aaron: Because the spring championships are going to be at the exact same course you just played at, right?

Chloe: Yes. It'll be in April during spring break. So, yeah.

Aaron: Okay. So, what'd you learn from the experience of playing this course that you can apply in April?

Chloe: I definitely learned the importance of just staying mentally focused for a course that's so long and so difficult. I mean, an LPGA championship was played there. I mean, it's very hard. It's just staying focused and forgetting your bad shots and just saying, "Okay, that one's out of the way. It's focusing on this one. What can I do with the shot that I'm given? And how can I make the most out of each one?" And, really, really taking advantage of the slopes of the green and reading, trying to read, those with as much break as possible, I think is very important. Those greens are very difficult.

Aaron: Excellent. Well, any other thoughts on the weekend?

Chloe: Overall, it was awesome. I loved being there with my coach. He was a big help. I know for a fact I would not have gotten there if he wasn't there with me. And I'm just really excited for April now. I have something to look forward to. And I'm going to work really hard to hopefully do well in that tournament.

Aaron: The volleyball team split a pair of conference matches with Connecticut College and Wesleyan over the weekend. Bates sports an overall record of 10-5 on the season with big NESCAC matches on the road this Friday and Saturday at Hamilton and Williams respectively.

Aaron: The Bates football team gave the visiting Tufts University Jumbos all they could handle Saturday before falling 33-28 in a game that saw Bates ahead 14-10 midway through the third quarter. Junior Christian Sanfilippo scored a career-high three touchdowns and junior Parker Smith caught his first collegiate touchdown pass in the loss. Junior quarterback Brendan Costa returned to the lineup and threw for 200 yards while rushing for a team-high 62 yards. He did not turn the ball over and Bates had a chance on its last drive to win the game. Unfortunately the Bobcats fell just short. Before our weekly interview with head coach Malik Hall, we catch up with Sanfilippo, who continues to be a goal line force for Bates on offense.

Aaron: When'd you start playing football growing up? And when'd you decide you wanted to play it in college?

Christian: I was about 10 years old and a bunch of my neighborhood friends were all football players. They were all into football, hockey, baseball, things like that. And I was still a soccer player but I wanted to try something really different. And so, my friends coerced me to come out and be the kicker for their Peewee inter-town football team. And so, I started off as the kicker but three or four weeks into Peewee football, just the coach was like, "You're a lot... We're going to try you at something different. You're a lot faster than some of these guys." So, they put me in at running back and that's kind of really how my football career kind of started.

Aaron: So, you've always been a running back. What's that process been like, growing in that position?

Christian: Initially, I was an incredibly undersized running back. I kind of just relied on just speed, pure luck and athleticism and stuff like that. But as I started to get older, I started to take initiative and start building my body and stuff like that. I'm learning the ins and outs of the position and what being a running back entailed.

Aaron: Certainly. And then, when you were looking for colleges in high school, what made Bates attractive to you, coming from Massachusetts?

Christian: I knew I wanted be a NESCAC kid, genuinely, right after my junior year season. And I visited a ton of the NESCACs and went down to two or three, limited it down to like two or three. And I took my visit to Bates in about around November. And I just genuinely really liked the environment, some of the kids that toured me around. And I thought... I was like, "I could see myself here for the next four years." People at other schools didn't necessarily bond with you like some of the people at Bates did so that ultimately led to the choice.

Aaron: You have a interesting role on the team. It's kind of carried over from last year. Once you get inside a 10, you're getting the ball it seems like quite a bit. What's it like being the goal-line back?

Christian: It's kind of awesome. A lot of my teammates joke around with me, this and that, like, "Oh, we're at the one-yard line. Here comes Christian come to steal the touchdown." I think it's awesome. I obviously really embrace the role. I'm just happy and fortunate to be able to be on the field at any point during the game.

Aaron: In high school, were you more of an every-down back and now it's a little bit different, I imagine?

Christian: Yeah. In high school, I was an every-down back. I played all through fourth down if we had to punt the ball, except for that.

Aaron: Yeah. So now, this past week though, I know you guys opened up with Golden at QB and then it was you, Lopez and Spillane in the back field. What was that kind of going back more of an old school ground and pound?

Christian: It was really interesting. The Tuesday practice came along, like, "All right, guys. We're going to put a spin into something that we did during Wesleyan Week." And I was like, "Okay." I was really interested to see what they did. And I don't want to really go into the details of how they decided to do it but it got really interesting. And we practiced it all week. And it was really interesting old school, kind of a form of the triple. But it was really fun and it was really interesting to see how it all came together.

Aaron: Certainly. And then Costa, luckily, was healthy last week. Came back. And seemed like he had a pretty good game. And the offense, as a whole, I mean that was the most points in a game so far this year. What's the offense... what's the attitude now, going into this week, preparing for Trinity?

Christian: We obviously knew we had a better-than-average week when it came to throwing the ball and the offensive moving up and down the field. And I think everybody's taking as much positive as we can take out of the game without ultimately felt like winning the game and stuff like that. But everybody's really excited, really, really thinking positive. And we're just excited to get back to practice today and see what we can carry over.

Aaron: Yeah. And I know you're a junior, so your first year was the old coaching staff and then Malik's first year was last season. What was that transition like to Malik? He's obviously a ball of energy out there. I know that much, right?

Christian: The transition was definitely interesting because we didn't necessarily know what was going to go on until about July. And then, players started to get a hold of who their coach was going to be and who Malik was and where he was from and his family and stuff like that. But it was definitely really interesting.

Christian: One thing I can say was, when the new coaching staff was hired, was that the attention to detail went up an incredible amount. And that's no disrespect to the former coaching staff or anything but the thought of the attention to detail went from being something that was a priority to the priority. And that's when players started to buy into the whole system and behind Coach Hall and company.

Aaron: I mean, you guys obviously are trying to break through to get that first win for Coach Hall. How much do you feel like you're kind of on the brink right now? It seems like a little bit.

Christian: It seems like every week, we show incredible flashes of something. But I think last week is like... this year at least, going back to Amherst, first weekend and last week, our just... we're on the brink. And we feel like a couple of different things that we could have changed probably would have resulted in a win.

Aaron: Helps to have people healthy, right?

Christian: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Aaron: I mean, that was... yeah.

Christian: We've been dealing with that kind of all season but a lot of people... People are getting healthier, which is really good. We're not going the opposite way. We're getting people back that we lost initially during the season. And I think as a squad in general, we're getting stronger.

Aaron: Certainly. Well, any other thoughts on this past week? Three touchdowns for you, that's got to be... obviously, you didn't get the win but still, three touchdowns. That's pretty fun.

Christian: Yeah. It was exciting ultimately but, like I said, from a team perspective, we were really excited to hopefully make that step and get that win. But it's always nice to do something individually that you've never done before, especially at the collegiate level.

Aaron: All right, Christian Sanfilippo. Thanks so much.

Christian: All right. Thank you so much.

Aaron: And now, head coach Malik Hall joins us on for the Fifth Quarter on the Bobcast.

Aaron: Coach, you got your quarterback back, Brendan Costa. You mixed in Matt Golden a little bit to start the game. But it seemed like Costa turned in one of his better performances in recent memory. What were your thoughts on his return to the lineup?

Malik: I think for our fan base and our team, it's always good when you can see the starting quarterback behind the helm. But I also think Matt Golden, with his senior leadership and his experience at the position, just being able to calm the troops and settle them in there, he can take the load off of Brendan, of those first quarter woes, of, you know, "Let's see if we can rattle the quarterback in the first quarter and make the second, third and fourth a little more defensive advantage."

Malik: And I think Matt Golden, with the running the ball in between the tackles, I think that puts a toll on your defense from them being able to just load up and pressure you because you guess on the wrong side of the pressure and the ball's coming out opposite of the pressure. And so, it definitely dociles the defense when they have to be accounting for the run left or right and, for that matter, right up the gut. And so, when Brendan comes in, you're getting a fatigued defense. You're getting a vanilla-coverage defense. You're getting rid of all of the exotics that defense can throw at your quarterback.

Malik: And when your quarterback's coming off of an injury, confidence is not running high. And so, if you add the fact that we've come off a tough loss, didn't have our starting quarterback for a game and a half, we just thought the best thing for our quarterback to be successful was to have a second-quarter start with him opposed to a first.

Aaron: It seems like the offense... Parker Smith got involved with that nice touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. Olivieri returned and made some plays. And Sanfilippo, of course, three touchdowns in the red zone. Mr. Red Zone there, right?

Malik: Yeah. Mr. Red Zone. I think he might be probably like 79% in the red zone right now. A three-touchdown game, I don't care if it's 80 yards or 1 yard, it's hard to get in the end zone. And for one player to get in the end zone three times is a good deal. It's a real good deal. But more importantly to just the touchdowns, the ability to spread the ball around to all of our skill. Olivieri had two good catches. The one that would've been the biggest, he wasn't able to pull in.

Malik: But again, man, I just think the more we're in those fourth-quarter games, the more we can grow up in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, out of four games, we've been in the fourth quarter two of the four. And in my mind, we should have been in the fourth quarter in all of them, potentially getting over the hump and turning those fourth-quarter battles into wins.

Malik: And so, playing Tufts, we got in the fourth quarter. We had the ball last. If we score, we win. That's the position we want to be in. We didn't get it done. We had some opportunities to. And, as they say, that's how the cookie crumbles. But in my mind, I think we all can have our heads high because we played Bobcat football and, more importantly, we played four quarters.

Malik: Now, our margin of error in the fourth quarter is very, very small. And so, as I look at it, the negatives of our margin of error are we dropped, we muffed a kick return. We didn't make any clutch, deep-ball catches. And we let a touchdown go in with 11 defenders missing. So, if you look at just margin of error, forget about the refs, forget about what didn't get called and what didn't happen, as it stands, we were still in control of our own destiny. And those errors are our errors. They're not forced errors.

Aaron: Yeah. The kickoff, it just seems like, got to tell your guys, you need to go catch that ball, right? You can't just let it fall to the ground.

Malik: Yeah. I mean, it's one of the things that we struggle, that was hard to wrap our minds around, is we did the hard stuff very, relatively well. We botched the easy stuff, if you will, right? And so, we talked about how the small things turn into big things. We just have a upside-down effect right now, where you stop a quality team on the one-yard line. And that's hard to do. Four times? That's hard. Come in, catching a ball on a routine kickoff, I mean, it's not easy but it's not the hardest thing we did that day.

Malik: And so, that's, to me, just lack of focus, letting fatigue get the best of us maybe and probably, to be completely transparent, just a mistake. We can't make those kind of mistakes in critical moments in clutch games because you may not recover from it. And unfortunately, that mistake, the muffed return, the receiver going 60 yards and everyone missing and... I mean, that's tough to come back from.

Malik: And then the safety even. Even though we're backed up, like, yes, this is a hard moment but this should be a moment everyone's aware. Get your shoulders down. Get your helmet down. And let's get out of the black zone. But it turns into a safety so... And those are all our errors, that if we own those and we make a commitment to just getting better, after owning our problem and owning our fault, I think we will. I think we will.

Aaron: Yeah. So, I mean, the defense, you touched on that there, it had some great moments. Like stopping them on fourth and goal, that was a clutch performance after the sudden change. But at the same time, there were a lot of short catches that turned into long catch and runs, it seemed like, which you got to wrap up I guess, right?

Malik: Yeah. I think it goes back to right now, we're a victim of the big play on defense. Letting the ball go in the air with no one there, that's a blown coverage. That's not "my guy was better than your guy" or "your guy was better than my guy." Again, margin of error, like not having your eyes where they need to be turns up to a touchdown. And so, for me, all of our woes are self-inflicted right now. A screen going 82 yards, there's no way that should happen. Short stop route for just a first down turning into a touchdown. So, right now, I had three touchdowns that just, on a good ball club and a locked-in defense don't let that happen. And those are three scores. That game is dramatically different without those scores. You probably saying we're in two-point possession win but because we gave up those two scores and...

Malik: Look, every team... Your opponent practices just as hard as you do. I think what determines a win and a loss, at the end of the day, is focus, fourth-quarter focus. If you can stop the play for three quarters, you certainly can stop it for four, unless you lose focus. And I think whether it be the deep ball, whether it be missed tackles or just poor pursuit, that's all a matter of focus; that's not a matter of talent.

Aaron: So, after the team fell down by three scores, the rest of the fourth quarter, very strong finish to the game really. I mean, it seems like everyone kind of got locked in at that point and refused to back down. I mean, the last few drives from key three-and-outs from the defense. Do you talk to the guys you were proud of them how they finished that game?

Malik: Absolutely. The theme of the game was to swing back because I think we're a very tough... a very, very tough team. I think we play with great effort. I think, at times, that effort is a reflex right now. And we'll run to the ball but not with intent to bring the ball down. And that one touchdown, he made eight guys miss. And he wasn't trying to make eight guys miss, right? So, I think when the teams have big plays and they're not looking for a big play, they're looking at kind of not do anything that can hurt them, we just got to follow through. Make a routine play a routine play. Routine plays right now unfortunately is beating us. Even the deep ball. You don't go sprint out to throw the deep ball; you go sprint out to throw it to the hitch and get out of bounds. Routine plays. We have to be routine just the same in our eye discipline and our execution.

Malik: But I was proud that they swung back. I think whenever you go down to a quality team, and a team that unfortunately has beaten us over the years, it shows a lot of fortitude, grit and character to continue to slug, slug, slug until you can see yourself wound your opponent and got up. We were very aggressive all around the board but it was a calculated aggression. Us scoring for a two was something that we-

Aaron: I was going to mention that.

Malik: ... we spoke about all year, all week, excuse me, just... Listen, if we going to down, let's go down swinging. And that means, look, don't let them block a extra point because we going for two. We're going to do some things to kind of help where we're deficient. But at the same point, the mindset has to be on the attack. And good things'll happen if we're all focused and understand what we're doing.

Aaron: Two-point conversion play calls. I enjoyed that. Doyon must've liked it also to get a chance to get back to the running back spot there.

Malik: Yeah, yeah. Again, I think we know who our guys are and we want to put them in positions to help the D. And it made no sense for us to have a quarterback out there and a tailback out there and a former tight end/receiver out there. Do they do that on a day-to-day? No. But we can't make people defend them because those flashes of running a fade if you're suit, running sweep or speed option if you're Doyon. And for Matt Golden, who's playing quarterback right now, those are same as right now. So, we didn't feel like it was high risk/high reward; we actually thought it was low risk/high reward. At the end, I wanted to go for two with our offense, which is why the penalty foul I think helped us because we had more room.

Aaron: More space.

Malik: And how we closed out the game was very intriguing. I've had a few interviews asked about my timeouts. And my thought was I don't think our offense is efficient enough to be 40 seconds with two timeouts right now because that's now six plays and you have to be money on six. We had six plays with one timeout and didn't complete one, right? And so, the timeouts don't help you if you're not moving it. You need more time than you need the timeout. So, that was my thought process about burning a second timeout. But the other part: You can't take the timeouts in the locker room with you. And we ended up having one to spare. And it didn't make or break the game. So, I try to deal with the game in the moments that are there, not in the what-if moments because that way, you'll always second-guess yourself that way.

Aaron: All right. Well, Trinity coming to town this weekend. And this is a team that was a powerhouse last year. Maybe a little more down this season. I don't know what Trinity is... they're dealing with right now but they're probably pretty angry at the moment.

Malik: What you're seeing is the gap being closed. Middlebury. How about that?

Aaron: Yeah.

Malik: And so, as we look at it from our team perspective, look, we're going to play every team hard. And every team's going to play us hard because every team right now is treating us like the contender. No one wants to be Bates' first win. And that's fair. I think when we get on top of that hill, our guys will be prepared for the kind of effort that they'll get week in and week out. So, with them, with their status and where they are, I expect to get a fully-loaded Trinity team. I expect them to come in here and try to outperform us. But it's my expectation that our Bobcat posse understands that and that they understand they have to have a great weekend practice to have a good game. And if we do all of the things that we can do, I think we'll be in another barn burner.

Malik: Again, the goal, unfortunately, is reverted back to "let's get the game in the fourth quarter and let's find out if we can win the game." And I think, hey, we take our steps and we take our lumps. And all I hope's that we're taking steps forward. I think this past week versus tough. We took some steps forward. Unfortunately, we just not getting the win yet. And I want to see us take some steps forward again this week versus Trinity.

Malik: Trinity, nothing really needs to be said about their legacy and their history. And there's everything to be earned by us beating them and by us taking it to them. So, I want to be a top dog. And to be the top dog, you got to face the top dog. And right now, by record, they may not be. But by all means, they think they are. And wouldn't they? Why wouldn't they? So, I'm excited.

Malik: I'm excited to play, man, all the time, man. I feel like the 300. Well, here we go, boys. We get to find out how good we are because they say they're real good. And so, as a play caller, as a head coach, I look at opportunity to compete as like a moment of like, "Yeah, this is going to happen. I'm going to find out more about myself by going hard in competition." And I think our guys are starting to adopt that process. A year ago, we blitzed 69 times against Trinity. We only sacked them once. So, in that space, like wow, I've never blitzed 69 times before and I've only gotten one sack. So, it was a learning moment for the competitive edge and the competitive nature in me.

Malik: And I want our guys to take on that same competitive edge and nature and say, " All right, 6'3", 6'2", 6'4" receivers? I get to find out how good I really am. I get to find out about my press technique. I get to find out about my cover two technique, my bell coverage, all of the looks that we have and disguises." I want our guys to get excited when we have good opponents. And there is no bad opponent in the NESCAC. So, the whole thought process about bringing the juice, every week you should be excited because you got a good opponent in front of you.

Aaron: All right. Malik Hall, thanks so much.

Malik: And again, it's a great day to be a Bobcat. 

Aaron: The men’s tennis team hosted the Wallach Invitational this weekend and first-years Leo Kupferman and Cameron Kania advanced to the “A Flight” Doubles finals. The Bobcats wrap up their fall season this Sunday when they host Franklin Pierce. The women’s tennis team also hosts Franklin Pierce this Sunday but before that, they’ll also compete in the Bowdoin Invitational.

Aaron: We’ll recap the fall tennis season, Bates’s home football game against Trinity, and key road contests for volleyball, soccer and field hockey, next time on Bates Bobcast!