A week after upsetting No. 14 ranked Wesleyan; the Bates men’s lacrosse team set a team record for the largest margin of victory in a NESCAC game by beating the Trinity Bantams 14-6 in Hartford on Saturday. The win also marks the team’s first win against Trinity since 2006, which was also the last time that the Bobcats made the NESCAC playoffs.
After scoring an impressive 11 goals against Bowdoin in a losing effort last week, Bates continued to demonstrate their offensive potency by hanging 14 goals against Trinity and forcing the Bantams to use three different goalies, with three different Bobcats posting hat tricks.
As they have in each game this season, the Bobcats jumped out to a quick lead as senior midfielder Rob Highland, still recovering from a knee injury, scored off of a dodge on Bates’ opening possession. Sophomore faceoff specialist Mac Jackson won the ensuing draw, fought for the ground ball, and tore through the Trinity defense to beat the goaltender on a shot and put Bates up 2-0. After a long possession with methodical ball movement, Highland added his second goal on an assist from sophomore attackman Jack Strain.
After Trinity responded with their first goal of the game, Bates’ junior midfielder Will Gilkeson prevented the Bantams from building up significant momentum by scoring on a dodge from the wing. Highland then completed his personal hat trick, again scoring unassisted on a dodge from the top of the box.
The Bantams tried furiously to mount a comeback, scoring two hard-earned goals to cut the lead to 5-3, but Bates’ defenders frustrated Trinity, smothering Trinity’s dodges and causing an impressive 30 turnovers.
“Our D executed the game plan together,” commented head coach Peter Lasagna, “We limited their best offensive player to one assist, and held down a talented Trinity attack.”
“Defenders Torben Noto ‘13, Charlie Clark ‘13, Andrew Berry ‘13, David Cappellini ’16, and Matt Proto ‘16 clamped down and made it impossible for Trinity to string together a run. The man down unit was unblemished for the 3rd straight game, while Charlie Kazarian ‘14 stopped the ball and controlled our clearing game.”
Kazarian, last week’s NESCAC Player of the Week, played another outstanding game in net, recording 11 saves on 17 shots on goal. “I think the key to stopping Trinity’s offense was limiting their transition opportunities and communicating well during six on six settled situations,” explained Kazarian.
After Trinity’s brief run in the second quarter, Bates turned on the jets offensively, exploding for a 9-3 run for the rest of the game. When asked what gave Bates its biggest advantage, Lasagna commented, “
I credit the offensive efficiency and shooting accuracy we displayed in the first half for building a 10-4 lead at halftime. Trinity was forced to cycle through three goalies. Our offensive group moved the ball as well as we have yet.”
Freshmen attackmen Jack Allard and Charlie Hildebrand would each score twice in the second quarter to combine for Bates’ next four goals, with Hildebrand’s both coming off of forced Trinity turnovers. Strain added an unassisted goal right before the half to put Bates up 10-4.
A defensively dominated third quarter was marked only by another Jack Allard goal, this one on an assist from senior midfielder Kyle Starr. Strain scored twice in the fourth quarter, and sophomore midfielder Conor Henrie became the seventh Bobcat to score with his rip on an assist from senior attackman Dan Hines.
Strain and Allard both had exceptional games for the Bobcats with three goals apiece, two assists for Strain and one for Allard.
By beating Trinity, Bates all but assures itself a spot in the NESCAC playoffs and has a legitimate chance at attaining a home playoff game if they can win two or three more games. After playing what Lasagna called, “our most complete game yet,” Bates looks like one of the more dangerous teams in the NESCAC, ranking fifth in both offense and defense.
“Seven different people scored goals. Ten different people had points. Our balance and unselfishness makes us very difficult to defend,” added Lasagna.
The red-hot Bobcats will travel to Keene State this week to face an undefeated Owls squad in an out of conference game before traveling to Williams College on Saturday.