Skidmore tops men's lax in game played in McDuffee's memory

MEDFORD, Mass. -- Skidmore College erased a 6-1 second-quarter deficit before halftime and proceeded to defeat the Bates College men's lacrosse team 14-10 on Saturday, in a non-conference game played in remembrance of former Bates and Lexington High School player Morgan McDuffee, who lost his life 10 years ago today.

Skidmore coach Jack Sandler, who was McDuffee's classmate and teammate at Bates, and Bates head coach Peter Lasagna set up the game, which was played at Tufts University's Bello Field, which was made available for the game by Tufts coach Mike Daly.

"Remembering Morgan" T-shirts were sold at the field, and a raffle was held as a fundraiser for Morgan’s Fund, which supports nonviolent conflict resolution for at-risk youths, and MetroLacrosse, which offers playing opportunities for Boston-area children. Before the game, Lasagna addressed the crowd with welcoming words of warmth and gratitude to all present. McDuffee's family was presented with Morgan's two Bates lacrosse jerseys, signed by current members of the Bobcats and Thoroughbreds.

Among the approximately 400 spectators present were many from McDuffee's nearby hometown of Lexington, Bates alumni, McDuffee's friends and family, and about 20 MetroLacrosse youths, who met and mingled with Bates coaches and players before and after the game.

After a rainy first part of the day, the showers ceased in time for the opening faceoff, and by the second half sunlight managed to poke through the lingering, low-hanging clouds.

The victorious Thoroughbreds (1-1) received six goals from Mike Perlow, while Brian Connolly added one goal and six assists and Quinn Hawkins pitched in with three scores.

Sophomore Wylie Leabo (Belmont, Mass.) scored three times for the Bobcats (1-1). Junior Kyle Starr (Concord, N.H.) added a score and three assists, and senior Thomas Repko (New Canaan, Conn.) tallied a goal and an assist.

Skidmore won 17 of 27 faceoffs and 50 of 86 ground balls. Connor Dowling came up with 12 saves for Skidmore, while senior Adam Scharff (Glyndon, Md.) stopped seven Skidmore shots.

After an initial spate of turnovers for both teams in the opening minutes, Bates got on the board first with an unassisted goal by sophomore Will Gilkeson (Cleveland Heights, Ohio). Bates senior defender Kevin Helm (Norwell, Mass.) then made it 2-0 when he caused a turnover, scooped the ground ball, charged up the field and scored another unassisted tally.

Hawkins closed the gap to 2-1 for Skidmore eight seconds after the ensuing faceoff, but Bates shrugged it off to score four straight. Leabo made it 3-1 before the end of the first period, and senior Jason Hichborn (Yarmouth, Maine) scored in the opening minute of the second quarter. Starr scored a man-up goal with 12:26 left in the quarter, and freshman Tucker White (Burlington, Vt.) made it 6-1 Bobcats with his first collegiate goal, on Starr's first assist.

Skidmore rebounded with four straight goals -- one each by Perlow, Sam Lawfer, Hawkins and Ryan Paradis. Bates received a rare man-down goal from freshman Nick Ford (Columbus, Ohio) with 5:58 left in the quarter to regain a two-score cushion at 7-5, but the Thoroughbreds closed out the half with even-strength goals by Perlow and Hawkins to even the game at 7-7 at halftime.

Perlow gave Skidmore its first lead of the game, at 8-7, with an unassisted tally less than three minutes into the third quarter, but Starr fed Thomas Repko from behind Skidmore's goal with 10:46 left to tie the game back up at 8-8. Skidmore then rattled off four straight goals in the game's deciding stretch, with Connolly assisting on three straight, for a 12-8 lead 16 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The teams went scoreless for over seven minutes, until Leabo notched back-to-back scores to put Bates back in the game at 12-10 with 6:43 left. Bates' hopes dwindled, however, when Perlow scored his sixth goal with 3:42 left, and Connolly added an insurance tally with 2:22 remaining to seal the win.

Helm collected six ground balls and caused three turnovers, while first-year Mac Jackson (Hood River, Ore.) collected five ground balls for Bates.

Bates will play its first NESCAC contest next Saturday at Middlebury, starting at 1pm, followed on Sunday with a 2pm conference game at Amherst.

Stats and Play by Play