No. 14 men's lacrosse falls 11-10 at Middlebury

Sophomore Matt Chlastawa scored four goals and dished out three assists on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Middlebury. (File photo by Brewster Burns for Bates College)

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Sophomore Matt Chlastawa scored four goals and dished out three assists but the No. 14 nationally ranked Bates men's lacrosse team's rally fell just short in an 11-10 loss on the road Saturday to the Middlebury Panthers.

The Panthers (1-0) took the lead for good when Henry Riehl scored his fourth goal of the game with 8:58 left in the third quarter on an assist from A.J. Kucinski, putting Middlebury up 7-6. The teams traded goals for the remainder of the quarter, with Chlastawa (Westfield, Mass.) scoring an unassisted goal with 35 seconds left to cut the Panther lead to 9-8.

But Bates (1-2) surrendered two man up goals to start the fourth quarter, falling behind by a score of 11-8 after Chase Goree found the back of the net on an assist from Michael McCormack with 13:01 left in regulation. 

Neither team scored again until senior captain Clarke Jones (Pepper Pike, Ohio) scored his third goal of the afternoon on a Chlastawa assist to trim the Middlebury lead to 11-9 with 3:44 remaining. Chlastawa gave the Bobcats hope for a miracle comeback with his fourth goal of the day, scoring with 34 seconds left to make the score 11-10 in favor of the Panthers.

But the Panthers secured the win when John Jackson won the ensuing faceoff with a ground ball pickup by Wes Quinzani. They held the ball until the clock hit zero, defeating the Bobcats by one goal for the second straight game going back to last year's NESCAC tournament. 

The Bobcats' two losses this season have been by a combined three goals. Man up opportunities were one of the differences this time around, with the Panthers converting 3-5 chances and Bates only converting 1-3. 

Senior Max Breschi (Carlisle, Pa.) supported Chlastawa and Jones by adding two goals and one helper for the Bobcats. Junior Eli Cooper (Glastonbury, Conn.) won 14-24 faceoffs and recorded six ground balls to lead the team, while junior Rocco Fantoni (Hauppage, N.Y.) caused a team-best three turnovers. Sophomore Rob Strain (Montclair, N.J.) made 15 stops in goal for Bates.

Riehl's four goals paced Middlebury, while McCormack scored two with two assists. Kucinski added a goal and two assists, while Riehl earned a team-high three caused turnovers. Eric Rogers paced the defense with eight ground balls, McCormack added five, while Jackson won 10-24 faceoffs. Charles Midgley made 16 stops in the Panther goal.

Bates went up in the game when Jones scored the only man up goal of the afternoon for the Bobcats on a Chlastawa assist with 11:57 left in the first. Then junior Dahnique Brown-Jones (New Britain, Conn.) found Breschi with 7:20 to go in the opening quarter, putting Bates up 2-0.

The Panthers responded with a 4-0 run to go up 4-2 with 5:33 left in the second quarter on an unassisted McCormack tally. The Bobcats answered with a 3-0 run of their own, taking a 5-4 lead into the halftime break on a Jones goal with just 22 seconds left in the second quarter on an assist from Chlastawa. 

Middlebury scored the first two goals of the third quarter to go up 6-5 before junior Andrew Small (Deerfield, Ill.) found Chlastawa for the equalizer with 11:33 left in the third. 

The game was extremely close in every statistical category, with Bates outshooting Middlebury 41-39. The Panthers recorded 34 ground balls to the Bobcats' 32. Meanwhile the Bobcats committed 19 turnovers while the Panthers turned it over 18 times. Middlebury had more success clearing the ball, converting 22-25 of their chances while Bates converted 20-27. 

The Bobcats are back in action next Saturday when they travel to Wesleyan to take on the No. 2 nationally ranked Cardinals at 1:00 p.m.