One of the most crucial and perhaps underrated aspects of men's lacrosse is the faceoff. The fact that Bates has one or two of the best in the business has been a major factor in what is becoming one of the program's finest seasons. Simply put, winning the faceoff gives one's team the ball and keeps the ball from the opponent.
Bates' two faceoff specialists, sophomore Mac Jackson (Hood River, Ore.) and junior Paul Donovan (Norwell, Mass.), are the biggest reasons Bates currently ranks first in the NESCAC, and 31st among 203 Division III teams in faceoff success: 59.6 percent (130 of 218) of all faceoffs thus far have been controlled by the Bobcats, with Jackson winning 86 of 149 (57.7%) and Donovan winning 43 of 68 (63.2%).
Bates' latest close NESCAC victory, Saturday's 7-6 comeback win over Hamilton at Garcelon Field, saw Jackson, a Second Team All-NESCAC selection as a rookie in 2012, take all 16 of the game's faceoffs, and win 12 of them (75%). Jackson also tallied 10 ground balls (most of them before leaving the vicinity of the faceoff 'X'), more than double any other players' total for the game. Jackson's 69 ground balls this season are 18 more than the next name on the NESCAC list.
At 6-4 overall and 4-3 in NESCAC play, Bates has won its most games since going 6-6 in 2007, and has its most NESCAC victories since winning five in 2006.
Also a standout slotback on Bates' football team, Jackson and his teammates next play at Tufts on April 16 at 7pm.