After a long and cold pre-season, Middlebury men’s lacrosse finally began their campaign for the 2019 season. NESCAC conference play started the first weekend of March, as Middlebury drove up to Lewiston, ME to take on Bates. Despite early success, Middlebury was unable to keep up with Bates’ fast-paced offense and lost 17-10, ending their three year streak of opening day wins.
Despite the loss, the team showed many signs of hope as the majority of their goals came from the younger players. The Panthers were able to grab onto an early 2-1 lead after first-year Tyler Forbes scored twice in the opening minutes — his first ever collegiate goals. He later went on to tally 4 goals in the game, quite an accomplishment for his rookie debut. After Bates was able to tie the game back up at 2, Middlebury went on a run to close out the first quarter. They scored three in a row to take a comfortable 5-2 lead. Bates then went on the attack. The Panthers failed to gain momentum in the second quarter and limped into halftime down 6-5, being shut out in the second.
With the Panthers being within just one score of the 25th ranked team in the nation at halftime, confidence and hopes remained high in the locker room. Although the Bobcats scored the first goal of the second half, Middlebury’s Aldrerik van der Heyde ’21 responded at the 8:30 mark. After the trade of goals, Bates again went on the offensive and scored a commanding 5 straight. Despite a beautiful shot by sophomore Will Brossman for the Panthers, the score entering the 4th quarter was held by the opponent 13-7.
The Panthers closed the gap to 4 after goals by van der Heyde and Forbes but the home team was able to quickly shut any hopes of a Middlebury comeback, tallying the final 3 goals. Middlebury senior Charles Midgley tallied 7 saves on 20 shot attempts. In addition, junior Jake Madnick garnered 5 ground balls, alongside Zeke Emerson ’20 who had 4 ground balls.
Despite the loss, Middlebury has a long and exciting season ahead of them. They saw contributions from every class in their season opener and look to continue to grow as a team as they play up to their potential. Middlebury will travel to Connecticut College next Saturday, March 9, to take on another NESCAC opponent. The Panthers will not host their first game on Youngman Field until March 23, when they take on the Bowdoin Polar Bears.