Highland, men's lax upend No. 11 Bowdoin, 11-5

LEWISTON, Maine -- Known for his rocket shots, Bates junior Rob Highland only had one goal to show for them this season until tonight. Tonight Highland got that monkey off his back in a big way, scoring a career-high five goals to lead the Bates College men's lacrosse team to an 11-5 win over No. 11 nationally ranked Bowdoin, ending the Polar Bears' five-game winning streak as well as their run of four straight victories between the rivals.

As is usually the case when Bates and Bowdoin meet, the game was action-packed and physical, but judging by the ferocious checking that was a constant in the game, the Bobcats seemed more engaged than the Polar Bears, and primed for an upset.

Highland (Yarmouth, Maine) got the Bobcats on top 1-0 just 69 seconds into the game, and Bates held Bowdoin scoreless until the second period, taking a 2-0 lead on first-year Jack Strain's (Montclair, N.J.) goal on an assist by junior Dan Hines (Manchester, Mass.). In a wild game overall, the first period was the wildest in terms of turnovers, with 10 committed by each side. Giveaways would afflict both teams, but Bowdoin in particular: the Polar Bears gave up the ball 29 times in the game, Bates 25.

The Polar Bears (7-2, 4-2 NESCAC) got unassisted goals from Conor O'Toole and Griffin Cardew in the opening three minutes of the second quarter to tie the game at 2-2. But Highland struck again after a slashing penalty called against Bowdoin, converting a feed from senior Jason Hichborn (Yarmouth, Maine) to make it 3-2 with 9:04 left in the quarter, and Bates led the rest of the way.

Highland found Hichborn for a second man-up goal for the Bobcats with 4:02 left in the half. The Bobcats were 2-for-2 on extra-man opportunities, while they held Bowdoin scoreless in five man-up chances.

Hines, making his return to the field after a six-week injury layoff, wheeled and scored on a turnaround from a tough angle with 3:17 remaining to give Bates a 6-2 lead at the half.

Bowdoin continued to struggle offensively through the third quarter. Bates junior Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) scored the lone goal of the quarter for a 6-2 lead, before the Polar Bears scored their first goal in 28 minutes of action, an unassisted tally by Dan Hanley with 13:50 left in the fourth quarter, which closed the gap to 6-3.

Bowdoin won the next faceoff and got one shot off before turning the ball over, and with 11:58 to go Starr fed sophomore Wylie Leabo (Belmont, Mass.) from behind Bowdoin's goal to regain a four-goal edge at 7-3. Bates won the next faceoff and junior defender Andrew Berry (Westwood, Mass.) scored on a low shot from outside, fed by senior Reed Brown (Portsmouth, N.H.), just 12 seconds later for an 8-3 lead.

Bowdoin still had time to get back into the game, and Nathan Fritts closed the gap to 8-4 on Patrick Lawlor's 11th assist of the season. Highland, however, scored his third goal with 8:52 left in the game, then added two more scores at the 6:42 and 5:22 marks to complete the game's scoring.

Bowdoin outshot Bates by a 40-34 margin, but the Bobcats had a 21-14 edge in shots on goal.

Brown had two assists for Bates. Hichborn, Hines and Starr had a goal and an assist apiece.

First-year Mac Jackson (Hood River, Ore.) won 8 of 14 faceoffs and collected a game-high seven ground balls. Senior Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) had four ground balls and four caused turnovers to spearhead an aggressive defensive effort by the Bobcats.

Lawlor led Bowdoin scorers with a goal and an assist. Conor O'Toole scored a goal and had a team-high-tying five ground balls for the Polar Bears. Ben Brewster and Brendan Hughes also had five ground balls apiece.

Chris Williamson made 10 saves for Bowdoin, while senior Adam Scharff (Glyndon, Md.) made nine in a stellar effort for Bates.

It was Bates' second victory this season over a nationally ranked opponent -- the Bobcats earlier this year won 6-5 at Wesleyan, the Cardinals' only loss to date. Bowdoin and Wesleyan are ranked second and third, respectively, in this week's New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's Division III Top 10 poll.

Bates plays its first-ever NESCAC game at Hamilton on Saturday at 1pm (Live Stats / Video).

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