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Opening salvo: Men's lax tops Keene State in overtime, 7-6

LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates senior Jason Hichborn (Yarmouth, Maine) scored the equalizer with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter, then tallied the game-winning goal just 22 seconds into overtime to lift the Bates men's lacrosse team to a 7-6 non-conference victory over Keene State on Wednesday, in the season opener for both teams.

Hichborn led Bates with a career-high tying three goals, as the Bobcats avenged last season's opener, a 14-3 loss to the Owls.

Keene State seniors Ian Hart (Richmond, N.H.) and Matt Crimmins (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) scored two goals apiece for the Owls, while both junior Taylor Jette (Simsbury, Conn.) and senior Matt Schairer (Wrentham, Mass.) dished out two assists apiece, with Schairer also scoring a goal.

Keene State's first-year goalie, Jack Rogers (Acton, Mass.), had an impressive debut with 16 saves. Bates senior Adam Scharff (Glyndon, Md.) made 11 saves for the Bobcats.

Neither team ever led the game by more than one goal, and the game was tied at the end of all four periods in regulation time.

Bates won 9 of 15 faceoffs in the game, including 3-of-4 from the start of the fourth period. First-year Mac Jackson (Hood River, Ore.) debuted impressively by winning eight of his 11 faceoffs.

Keene State overcame a 5-4 deficit late in the third quarter by evening the game as the quarter ended, as Schairer advanced a fast break right up the middle of the field and found senior Chris Mallon for the putaway. Schairer then fed Crimmins for the go-ahead score at 6-5 with 11:01 left in the fourth quarter.

Rogers made four saves down the stretch to preserve the Owls' lead, and Keene State cleared the ball into Bates' zone with under two minutes to go, having only to run out the clock. But senior Lucas Denning (Yarmouth, Maine) caused a Keene State turnover, giving Bates the ball back with 1:34 left. A shot by junior Rob Highland (Yarmouth, Maine) went wide, but first-year Jack Strain (Montclair, N.J.) picked up the miss and the ball found its way to Hichborn, who drove hard to the left and muscled a shot into the upper right corner of the net with 48 seconds to go, tying the game at 6-6. Jackson won the ensuing faceoff, collected by junior Torben Noto (Portland, Ore.), and the last shot of regulation, by Bates junior Dan Hines (Manchester, Mass.) was stopped by Rogers.

Bates senior Reed Brown (Portsmouth, N.H.) made a brilliant pickup of the faceoff that started the overtime period, and Hichborn iced the victory with 3:08 left in the four-minute period on another individual left-side drive, this time bouncing back into the middle and releasing his shot while facing Rogers directly.

Crimmins got the Owls on the scoreboard first with an unassisted tally less than four minutes into the game. The Owls, who outshot the Bobcats 18-14 in the first half, took five more shots before Hichborn evened the game at 1-1 with 2:14 left in the first period. Bates took a 2-1 lead in the second quarter on a Hines score, then also went up 3-2 on a goal by sophomore Will Gilkeson (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), assisted by sophomore Wylie Leabo (Belmont, Mass.). Keene State evened the game 3-3 before halftime on a goal by Hart, and Hart tallied again with 8:41 to go in the third quarter for a 4-3 advantage.

It was Bates' turn to tie the game and retake the lead, and the Bobcats did it largely due to the efforts of some rookies: Evan Chen (Katonah, N.Y.) assisted Gil Cassagne (Dallas, Texas) to make it 4-4 with 6:09 to go, and following a Bates timeout late in the quarter, Strain scored on an assist by junior Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) to return the upper hand to the Bobcats.

Brown and Noto collected four ground balls apiece to lead all players, as the Bobcats built a big 27-13 advantage in ground balls as a team. Bates also outshot Keene State by a 35-28 margin.

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