No. 1 men's lacrosse advances to NESCAC semifinals with 11-8 win over eighth seed Connecticut College

The No. 1 nationally ranked Bobcats are headed to the NESCAC Championships semifinals. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The No. 1 nationally ranked and top seed Bates men's lacrosse team defeated eighth seed Connecticut College 11-8 in a NESCAC Championships quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon at Garcelon Field.

Bates (14-0) advances to play sixth seeded Middlebury next Saturday in the semifinals of the NESCAC Championships. The Panthers defeated third seeded Amherst 12-11. The Bobcats defeated Middlebury at Garcelon Field by a score of 15-12 on April 8. 

Senior captains Kyle Weber (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and Charlie Fay (Falmouth, Maine) led the Bobcats on offense Saturday against the Camels. They scored four goals apiece in the first half. First-year Matt Chlastawa (Westfield, Mass.) dished out a game-high four assists for Bates. 

The Camels (7-9) spread their offense around with seven different players scoring goals. First-year Maxx Trotsky led the way with two scores. Jackson Kleintz and Ross Thompson tallied two assists each. 

The Bobcats outshot the Camels 47-31 on the afternoon. 

"We were getting good shots pretty much the whole game but I give them a lot of credit, they played very well," Bates head coach Peter Lasagna said. "It was as brutal of a 1-8 match-up you could possibly have."  

The Bobcats narrowly won the ground ball battle by a count of 28-27. 

Bates denied the Camels on all four of their man-up opportunities while the Bobcats only converted one of their three man-up chances. 

First-year Rob Strain (Montclair, N.J.) made 12 saves in his first career start in goal for Bates. Sophomore goalkeeper Jameson Hill made 18 saves for the Camels. 

"Strain played well, I thought the defense around him also played well," Lasagna said. "I thought he'd been seeing the ball really well for awhile. He's a very good athlete and very good in the clearing game. The only way I could find out if he was ready to start in a NESCAC playoff game was to start him in a NESCAC playoff game." 

Fay put the Bobcats ahead for good with 13:29 left in the second quarter. Senior Charlie Gravina (Fair Haven, N.J.) forced a turnover and the Bobcats got the ball to Fay who scored from straight on, rolling the ball under Hill's legs on an assist from junior Burke Smith (Wilton, Conn.).  

After another Camels turnover, Bates moved the ball around the perimeter until senior Jake Walsh (Baltimore, Md.) connected with Weber who side-armed the ball in from 15 yards out to extend the lead to 5-3 with 12:11 to go in the half.

The Camels showed their resilience by responding right away thanks to a superb effort from Jordan Foster. The Nevada native ran around a couple Bates defenders before finding the back of the net on an off-balance close range shot, making the score 5-4 with 11:44 remaining.

After the Camels turned the ball over in their own end, Chlastawa delivered a no-look feed to Fay and the senior captain converted for his third goal of the first half. The Bobcats led 6-4 with 9:08 to go in the half.

Neither team scored for just under six minutes until Walsh found Weber and once again the Ohio native made his opportunity count, side-arming the ball in from distance for his fourth goal of the half. Weber's score made the score 7-4 in favor of Bates with 3:13 left in the half.

The Bobcats won the ensuing faceoff and after a Fay shot rattled off the post, Chlastawa picked the ball up and delivered a perfect feed to Fay who scored from point blank range for his fourth goal of the half.

The Camels called timeout with 2:19 remaining in the half, trailing 8-4.

With 1:11 left, Sean Smith received a pass right in front of the net, but Strain denied him for his fifth save of the half.

Strain continued his strong performance when he denied a Kelleher shot from distance with time winding down in the half. 

Bates led 8-4 at halftime. They outscored the Camels 5-1 in the second quarter after an even first quarter of action. The Bobcats' four-point lead at the break proved to be their biggest lead of the game.

The Camels got on the board first to start the third quarter when Kleintz scored his second goal of the afternoon on an assist from Kelleher. Then they struck again to cut the Bobcat lead to 8-6 when John Cunningham found the back of the net with 13:47 left in the quarter.

After missing on his first nine shots of the day, Chlastawa went top shelf for the score to put Bates up 9-6 with 11:16 to go in the third. It was the first goal of the day scored by the Bobcats by a player not named Fay or Weber.

More than eight minutes went by without either side scoring. But the Camels broke the drought with 3:03 left in the third quarter on a goal from Thompson.

After a slashing call on Bates, the Camels ran the clock out in the third quarter, still trailing the Bobcats 9-7.

The fourth quarter opened with Bates successfully recording the penalty kill. They got the ball back but a quick stick attempt by Chlastawa got denied.

With 7:21 left in regulation, Chlastawa tallied his fourth assist of the night when he passed from the far side of the goal to the near side, finding senior Andrew Melvin (Medfield, Mass.) for Melvin's first goal of the game.

The Camels responded with 5:25 to go as Trotsky scored off an assist from Thompson, trimming the Bates lead to 10-8.

But the Bobcats continued to keep the Camels at arm's length, with Melvin passing from behind the goal to Walsh for the senior's first goal of the day. The score pushed the Bobcat lead to 11-8 with 3:53 left.

Neither team scored from there on out as Bates earned its third victory in the NESCAC Championships in program history. 

The Camels got on the board first when Kleintz connected with Kelleher who fired from 15 yards out to give Connecticut College a 1-0 lead with 12:37 left in the first quarter.

After Hill made a couple acrobatic saves, the Bobcats got on the board with 8:29 to go in the first when Melvin passed the ball from behind the net to Weber. The senior midfielder scored the equalizer from straight on to even things up at one. 

Strain made a nice save with just over seven minutes to go in the first and Bates senior captain and All-American defender Fred Ulbrick (Fairfield, Conn.) picked up the ground ball. He got cross checked to the head and Bates took advantage of the two-minute man-up situation when Fay found Weber for his second goal of the afternoon. Bates led 2-1 with 6:35 to go in the first.

With 4:38 to go in the opening quarter, Chlastawa made a perfect pass to Fay eight yards in front of the net and Fay rolled it in to give the Bobcats a 3-1 lead.

Sean Smith cut the Bobcat lead to one when he scored from just behind the crease with 3:28 left in the first quarter.

The Camels tied the game at three with 1:34 to go in the quarter on a goal from Trotski on an assist from Kleintz. The goal marked the last time the game was tied on the afternoon. 

The victory marks the second time the Bobcats have defeated the Camels this season. Bates beat them 16-14 on April 22 in New London. 

As the top remaining seed, Bates will host both semifinal games next Saturday and the championship game next Sunday. No. 2 Wesleyan and No. 5 Tufts also earned quarterfinal victories against No. 7 Williams and No. 4 Bowdoin respectively. 

"We're excited to be at home on Garcelon Field (next weekend)", Lasagna said. "We're excited to have the NESCAC Championship run through Lewiston, Maine."