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No. 7 Panthers hand men's lacrosse its first loss, 9-6

David Barrett '10 has nine goals and three assists through the Bobcats' first four games.

LEWISTON, Maine -- No. 7-ranked Middlebury scored a 9-6 NESCAC victory over the Bates men's lacrosse team Saturday in the Panthers' season opener and the host Bobcats' first conference game.

Middlebury junior goalie Ryan Deane (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) saved the day for the Panthers, making 20 saves, including approximately five from point-blank range. Junior David Hild (West Hartford, Conn.) led Middlebury in scoring with two goals and one assist, while junior Andrew Conner (Alexandria, Va.) added two goals.

Bates senior captain David Barrett (Chatham, N.J.) scored three goals to lead the Bobcats (3-1, 0-1 NESCAC). Bates outshot Middlebury by a 57-36 margin, including a 26-21 edge in shots on goal, and missed some choice scoring opportunities in the second half that prevented the Bobcats from cutting into Middlebury's lead more quickly. The Panthers dominated faceoffs, winning 15 of 19, including a 13-of-17 effort by first-year Brian Foster (Medfield, Mass.).

The Panthers got out to a 2-0 lead in a frustrating first minute of play for the Bobcats. Middlebury senior Matt Virtue (Rye, N.Y.) scored with 14:18 on the clock on an assist from senior Pete Smith (Wilton, Conn.), who had forced a Bates turnover and collected the ground ball.

The ensuing faceoff saw the ball travel all the way to the Bates circle before being flipped from sophomore Alex Englert (Wellesley, Mass.) to sophomore Jack Balaban (Washington, D.C.) for a surprise goal and a quick 2-0 lead.

Barrett personally got even with the Panthers with a pair of unassisted goals at the 8:07 and 4:05 marks of the first quarter, which ended in a 2-2 tie at the end of the first quarter.

Hild netted his first goal less than two minutes into the second period, but Sampson rattled in his third goal from an extreme angle on the left side, and the ball struck both pipes before landing in the net behind Deane, to tie the game at 3-3 with 9:35 left in the second.

The Panthers answered less than a minute later, winning the faceoff and scoring at the 8:38 mark with an unassisted tally by Andrew Conner. The goal started a decisive 5-0 run for Middlebury: Englert scored unassisted at the 6:18 mark, followed by a Smith goal at the 5:28 mark to make it 6-3. Hild added another unassisted tally with one minute on the clock for a 7-3 halftime lead.

The third quarter was the most frustrating for Bates, with three point-blank misses amid 17 shots taken, the most of any period, none of which found the net. Middlebury was able to increase the lead three seconds into a man-up opportunity when Conner scored on an assist by Hild after an offsides call went against the Bobcats.

Junior Rory Cosgrove (Pittsburgh, Pa.) broke Bates' 26-minute-plus scoring drought with an unassisted tally with 8:37 to play. Middlebury answered after winning the ensuing faceoff as Jack Masur assisted Tim Cahill at the 7:23 mark.

Bates gave Middlebury a late run, netting two goals in the final 40 seconds, one by senior Nick Sampson (Yarmouth, Maine) on a Cosgrove feed, and first-year C.J. Schmidt (Franktown, Colo.) scored his first goal of the season with 29 seconds to go, ending the scoring at 9-6.

Bates senior Michael Nadler (Northborough, Mass.) recorded game highs for either team in ground balls (9) and caused turnovers (5). Foster led the Panthers with seven ground balls. Sophomore netminder Adam Scharff (Glyndon, Md.) played another strong game in goal for Bates, finishing with 12 saves and three ground balls.

Bates next plays host to Williams in another NESCAC game next Saturday, March 20 at 1 p.m. Middlebury has a non-conference game at Springfield on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

Stats and Play by Play: No. 7 Middlebury 9, Bates 6