|Middlebury College||Bates College|
LEWISTON, Maine — Charles Midgley made 19 saves in goal and eight different Panthers found the back of the net in a 14-13 victory for sixth seeded Middlebury over No. 1 nationally ranked Bates men’s lacrosse in the NESCAC semifinals on Saturday.
Bates (14-1) suffers its first loss of the season. Middlebury (9-8) wins its third straight game and advances to Sunday’s NESCAC championship game which gets started at noon on Bates’ Garcelon Field.
Faceoffs proved to be the biggest difference in the game, with the Panthers winning 23 of 31 on the day.
With 56 seconds to go in the third quarter, Middlebury’s Parker Lawlor gave the Panthers the lead for good with an unassisted tally. His second goal of the afternoon put Middlebury up 11-10.
The fourth quarter was a classic back-and-forth battle, with the teams trading goals throughout the period.
The Panthers struck first when Wes Quinzani scored his lone goal of the game with 13:50 to go in regulation, extending their lead to 12-10.
After being held to one goal through the first three quarters, Bates first-year Matt Chlastawa came up huge for the Bobcats in the fourth. He pulled the Bobcats to within one with 11:59remaining on an unassisted score.
But as they did all night, Middlebury answered. This time Matthew O’Neal scored an unassisted goal to push the lead to 13-11 with 11:20 left.
With 4:08 left, the Bobcats nearly cut the lead to one but Kyle Weber’s shot hit the post. Weber tallied one goal on 10 shots in the game.
Chlastawa scored on an assist from Jake Walsh with 6:38 left to make the score 13-12. Then with 2:30 left, Middlebury’s Chase Goree found JP Miller for a huge insurance goal, pushing the Panther lead back to two.
With 1:19 left, Bates’ Charlie Fay notched his second assist of the night when he picked up a ground ball off a Middlebury turnover and found Chlastawa for the first-year’s third goal of the quarter.
With 36 seconds to go, Bates’ Fred Ulbrick caused a turnover and picked up the ground ball, giving Bates one last chance to tie the game.
But the Bobcats turned it over themselves when Fay’s pass was intercepted by Quinzani. By the time Quinzani turned it over near midfield there was no time for Bates to get a final shot off.
The Panthers never trailed on the afternoon despite never leading by more than three.
The first quarter was a high scoring affair with Middlebury tallying six goals to Bates’ five. The Panthers got on the board first less than a minute in on an unassisted Henry Riehl tally.
The Bobcats tied things up with 13:07 left in the first when Andrew Melvin connected with Walsh for the senior’s lone score of the day.
Middlebury proceeded to score three unanswered goals, taking their biggest lead of the game at 4-1 with 8:58 left in the first on a Lawlor goal with an assist to Chase Goree.
The Bobcats cut the three-goal deficit to one with back-to-back goals from Burke Smith and Clarke Jones, making the score 4-3 in favor of the Panthers with 7:36 left in the first.
The teams traded goals from there on out with Weber’s only goal of the afternoon making the score 6-5 at the end of one.
The highest scoring quarter of the game was immediately followed by the lowest scoring quarter, with the teams combining for only three goals in the second quarter.
After Riel put the Panthers back up by two with 11:11 left in the half, Fay answered just a few seconds later on an assist from Melvin.
Neither team scored again until Fay tied the game at seven with 2:55 left in the half.
With the score tied at halftime, Middlebury set the tone early in the third quarter, scoring the first two goals to go up 9-7. A.J. Kucinski scored his third goal of the game on an assist from Danny Jacobs with 11:12 to go in the quarter. Then about a minute later, JP Miller scored the first of three second half goals.
The Bobcats scored three of the next four goals in the quarter, tying the game at 10 on a Fay score off a Chlastawa assist with 1:28 left.
But Lawlor had the answer, Middlebury held on to pull off the upset.
Fay and Chlastawa led all scorers with four goals. Miller and Kucinski led the Panthers with three goals each. Middlebury’s Danny Jacobs tallied a game-high three assists.
The Bobcats won the ground ball battle 49-44 and forced 28 turnovers while only turning the ball over 17 times themselves.
Middlebury’s Jake Madnick won 22 of 27 faceoffs to help the Panthers keep the ball away from Bates.