Men’s Lacrosse Knocks Off No. 14 Bates in Season Opener

Middlebury Athletic Communications

By IMRAN GANDA

The men’s lacrosse team (1–0, 1–0) kicked off their season in successful fashion, sealing a narrow win over No. 14 Bates (0–1, 0–1), 11–10, last Saturday, March 3, at Middlebury’s Youngman Field. This extended the Panthers’ streak of winning their season opener to three years in a row.

Bates was aggressive from the outset and even jumped out to an early 2–0 lead a few minutes into the game. With a bit of patience, the Panthers notched their first goal of the season courtesy of Henry Riehl ’18, who managed to cut down the middle of Bates’s defense before sending the ball past the keeper. Following six minutes of solid defense from both the Panthers and the Bobcats, Middlebury trailed 2–1 when the horn sounded to end the first quarter.

To open the second quarter, A.J. Kucinski ’20 showed a brilliant display of individual skill as he spun away from a defender to set himself up for an easy shot directly in front of the goal. The keeper had no chance. Frank Cosolito ’20 followed up Kucinski’s goal just a few minutes later with a shot that erased any concern raised by the early 2–0 hole the Panthers were in, as his goal with 8:27 left to play in the second quarter gave the Panthers a 3–2 lead.

Bates immediately charged towards Middlebury’s goal on the ensuing possession, but a stop at the 7:53 mark by goalie Charles Midgley ’19 diffused any chance of the Bobcats netting a potential equalizer.

Midway through the second quarter, Wes Quinzani ’18 fought hard to recover a scramble at midfield. The Panthers pushed their offensive line up and were able to find a goal through Michael McCormack ‘19, scoring off a second-chance opportunity. Bates responded with a goal of their own just 20 seconds later and finished the quarter with two additional goals to lead 5–4 at the half.

Coming out of halftime, Riehl scored early in the third quarter to momentarily give the Panthers a 6–5 lead, but Bates quickly moved to tie the game at six. Then, a short three minutes later, Kucinski and Riehl combined once again for another Panther goal. This time, Kucinski delivered a great ball to Riehl, who found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the game. John Jackson ’18 was able to set in motion an additional goal for the Panthers, as he fed a ball to newcomer Will Brossman ’21 — playing in his first collegiate game — who managed to bully off a defender for a clean shot on goal.

Before time expired in the third quarter, though, Bates showed why they are a perennially ranked team, as Matt Chlastawa found the back of the net on an unassisted goal, making the score 9–8 heading into the final 15 minutes.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the visitors’ bench started to turn up the volume in hopes of securing their first win of the season on the road. The bench went silent when McCormack managed to convert a well-placed rising shot into the top corner to give the Panthers a 10–8 lead 17 seconds into the fourth quarter. And that was not all. Momentum had clearly swung to the Panthers’ side when, two minutes later, Chase Goree ’20 added his name to the scoresheet with a patient play for the Panthers.

The next 10 minutes were scoreless until Bates secured a goal from a diving effort with three and a half minutes to play. Though the Bobcats were able to secure a late goal with 34 seconds on the clock to cut the lead down to one, their comeback fell short, as the Panthers won the ball in the ensuing face-off and ran down the clock.

Riehl led the Panthers in scoring with four goals, while McCormack had a brace with goals and assists. Midgley managed to stop 16 attempts successfully, just one more than the Bates keeper. This one additional save very well could have been the decisive factor in this Panthers win.

Overall, the Panthers were satisfied with their performance, particularly on the defensive end according to midfielder Parker Lawlor’18.

“One key takeaway was that our defense didn’t give up easy crease goals and our freshmen stepped up,” Lawlor commented.

The Panthers will be back in action on Saturday, March 10, when they host Connecticut College in a conference bout on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium at 1 p.m. After their first victory, the Panthers don’t seem to be slowing down and are already preparing for the new challenge that Connecticut poses.

“Connecticut traditionally plays a zone so that is something we are preparing for this week compared to bates who played mostly man,” Lawlor mentioned.

Middlebury will have their third straight home game on Tuesday, March 13, when the Panthers welcome St. Lawrence at 4 p.m. that afternoon.

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Men’s Lacrosse Knocks Off No. 14 Bates in Season Opener